How African startups are promoting tech for social good (and lots of it)

This information provided by Smart Cities Council Global.


If what you'll read below is any indication, today's startup ecosystem in Africa is brimming with entrepreneurs focused on improving lives and livelihoods – and not just their own! Innovating to include seems to be alive and well on the continent. – Philip Bane


Ventures Africa has a fascinating piece on "tech for good" startups to watch in 2017. Read through it and it's clear the entrepreneurs involved are motivated to solve problems. Sometimes the solution can be as simple as the continent's first smartphone degree program. OneUni gets around the problem of lack of physical space at universities and the prohibitive cost of attending.

Here's another sensible solution to the problem of 200 million Africans needing pasture land for their herds – which has become increasingly challenging due to climate change and drought. To modernize their search, Ventures Africa explains how Project Concern International (PCI) developed SAPARM – for Satellite-Assisted Pastoral Resource Management. Now PCI shares maps with satellite images that show pastoralists where they can find vegetation for their herds.

In a Fortune post, Erin Griffin highlights several startups she's convinced really are making the world a better place. One of them is Andela, a startup that trains software developers in Kenya and Nigeria and places them in remote jobs with IBM and Microsoft, among others. So far Andela has trained over 200 engineers, ultimately hoping to seed the tech future of African nations.

In its latest list of the world's top 100 tech startups making a positive social impact, UK-based Nominet Trust included 11 firms from Africa. Among them are OneUni and SAPARM mentioned above and the free job recruitment app Giraffe which we've written about before. Some of the other African startups on the Nominet Trust list are:

  • Lumkani -- a low-cost fire detection and alarm system for slums
  • Follow the Money – an app that helps citizens track aid money
  • Vula Mobile – a diagnostic app for faster and more accurate medical referrals

A new global hub
As part of its Best Countries rankings, U.S. News and World Report suggested mission-driven startups in three North African countries are at the forefront of social entrepreneurism – Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt.

Writes Ben Hamadi Zouhour:
"My research on startups and young entrepreneurs has revealed one striking common attribute: whether Tunisian, Moroccan or Egyptian, they are overwhelmingly socially oriented. Knowing their countries' economic difficulties, they are driven to fight unemployment, not just by launching their own businesses, but also by improving the lives of their fellow citizens."

More on Africa:
From Africa to Austin, "new collar" jobs open digital doors for young people
How technology and old tires are creating jobs and preventing waste
Spurring African economic growth with mobile phones and footsteps

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This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.

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