As more entrepreneurs launch businesses in Africa, CNN is shedding light on those making significant strides. The following startups have received press for improvements in areas such as health care, Internet connectivity, entrepreneurship, and consumer services:
1. Gifted Mom
Founded by Alain Nteff in Cameroon, Gifted Mom leverages mobile-based technology to support pregnant women and new mothers. The company, which won the African Start-Up Award and Queen’s Young Leader Award, focuses on reducing maternal and infant deaths by providing an app that monitors pregnancy and baby development, as well as notifying mothers of antenatal care and immunization through short message service (SMS) and voice notifications. Gifted Mom also shares valuable information about sex education, teen health, and family planning.
In 2013, South African entrepreneur Patrick Schofield created Thundafund. The crowdfunding platform has gained media attention for its innovative approach. The site not only garners financial backing for new businesses and their ideas, it focuses on building brand awareness through multimedia channels and helping users to understand whether or not their venture is viable. As a result, those permitted to share their projects on the platform are more attractive to investors. Halfway through 2015, the company has selected 160 businesses from a pool of 1,400 projects to publish on its site. Honest Chocolate and Y-Bikes are among the brands that have launched successful campaigns.
3. Peek Vision
In order to raise awareness of blindness that can be cured with proper care, former London resident Dr. Andrew Bastawrous created Peek Vision in Kenya. Also known as the Portable Eye Examination Kit, Peek Vision is a mobile app that gained financial support through crowdfunding, grants, prize money, and the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust. The app utilizes a test that shows the letter “E” pointing in various directions. Through swipe technology, an examiner records which direction a patient sees the letter pointing based on his or her response. The app produces results that include a recommendation for treatment. The app also supports Peek Retina, an auto-focus camera tool that projects a test taker’s retina on a screen. This allows medical professionals to identify eye concerns, such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma, without the need for costly and bulky equipment. While it is initially designed to serve countries that are underserved, the app is expected to revolutionize and improve how eye care professionals handle cases.
African residents and organizations, particularly those in remote regions, frequently struggle with power outages. The answer to this is BRCK, a company led by chief executive officer Erik Hersman and backed by $3 million in investments. The company aims to improve connectivity throughout the continent with a device that “hops” Internet connections. By hopping from Wi-Fi to Ethernet to 3G and 4G when connectivity is dropped, it is possible for people to stay online longer, which is crucial for businesses to continue operating longer and for schools to provide education without any interruptions. BRCK, which has a battery life of eight hours, is created from material that can withstand rugged terrain. As of 2013, more than 2,500 devices had been sold. People in over 50 countries are using the product.
For people who have limited time to complete their chores, Yoza alleviates some of the burden. In 2015, the app was launched by young entrepreneur Solomon Kitumba. The app connects people with laundry service providers who complete tasks by hand, the way that many Ugandans typically clean their clothes. The driving force behind the app is its ability to contact providers by phone after a user has selected the service on an app. After the task is assigned and completed, the laundry washer receives 80 percent of the fee charged. The app, which targets single professionals and students, generates additional revenue for washers. The laundry washers, who are primarily women, have reported doubling their income since joining the app’s list of local providers.
Developed by a social entrepreneur with a background in the health care sector, access.mobile is overseen by Kaakpema Yelpaala. The company provides a mobile platform called amHealth, which improves physician and patient engagement. The easy-to-use tool, which works on both mobile and tablet devices, allows medical professionals to manage patient queues, track payments, record patients’ medical history, send group messages regarding topics like health campaigns and disease outbreaks, and automate appointment scheduling. In addition, the service permits the sharing of medical records with family members at a patient’s discretion. access.mobile has received press from National Public Radio (NPR), devex, and How We Made It in Africa.
7. Medical Diagnostic
Hundreds of thousands of African citizens die from malaria every year. A majority of the people were once residents of sub-Saharan Africa. With the goal of reducing mortality rates, biotechnologist Ashley Uys developed a malaria self-testing kit through his company, Medical Diagnostic. The kit, which tests blood samples in less than 30 minutes, tells users what strain of malaria they have so that they can work with their health care provider to implement an effective treatment plan. The kit, which costs 30 cents, can also determine the effectiveness of a recommended treatment.