My first trip to Cameroon was in the spring of 2011. Amazing to see what kind of progress is being made only a year and a half later. It is exciting to see the ranks of technology entrepreneurs grow in the country. Also the quality of startups has greatly improved and I noticed a serious focus on business models. Several teams have gone through multiple iterations of their product before refining concepts that have real potential to gain traction.
In fact, a recent visitor from Nairobi remarked that the Kenyan entrepreneurs have something to learn from their Cameroonian counterparts. Indeed, it might seem that the constraints placed on entrepreneurs in the country forces them to focus – working faster with less resources. It was also noted technology entrepreneurs in Nairobi are sometimes hesitant to close their computers and speak with actual customers, when most of the teams in Cameroon spend a great deal of time and effort on market research.
Almost not a week goes by that we don’t read about the launch of another fund in Nairobi, an accelerator in Ghana or a competition targeting startup entrepreneurs in Nigeria. Its herd mentality with everyone piling into the same plane. Maybe Cameroon doesn’t get the same attention because people are less familiar with the operating environment or the government has done less to bolster its image. Certainly there is less sector support. That said, the quality of innovators we know in Cameroon are on par with any we have met.
There should be a podium for technology entrepreneurs in every country, and the Cameroon Startup Challenge 2012 is another step for the community in Cameroon. These individuals, in every community, are critical if we are to solve difficult social, economic and environmental problems. They are an important part of our future. Their path is not an easy one and it is important to take a step back and to recognize the progress being made.
It is hard work and these guys are blazing a new path for hopefully many generations to come. Already we see new teams of entrepreneurs staking their ground. These are still the early days of many exciting times ahead. Congrats to the team at Djoss.tv, KingMaker and Agro-Hub!
At the recent Pivot East competition, an event in which developers pitch their mobile apps to possible investors, Uganda was represented by 4 startups. The contestants included Easy Order, Story Spaces, mPoultry and MafutaGo. With a 50% success rate, two of the four pitching teams walked away with $10.000.
The four startups that competed:
1) Easy Order: EasyOrder is an SMS based mobile ordering and supply chain management application developed to simplify the way customers order for goods from manufacturers and distributors.
2) Story spaces: A digital story telling portal. Collective Mentoring Through the African Story Telling Experience. StorySpaces is a digital story telling application. create stories at your own time and on the move.
3) mPoultry: Mpoultry is a simple technological solution that enables chicken farmers to simply monitor the conditions of the brooder via SMS. It utilizes environmental sensors and an android device to monitor the temperature, lights and chicken feed inside the brooder. The farmer receives an SMS when his intervention is required.
4) MafutaGo: Helps users find the nearest fuel stations with the prices and Services that best suit their needs. Recently AppsDivision the makers of MafutaGo made a merger with Code Sync, taking on three more members to make an amazing team of eight. The team is more diversified and skillsets balanced out.
The two winners were Easy Order, in the Business and Resource Management category, and MafutaGo, in the Utilities category.
Having spent time with the community in Kampala, and at places like Appfrica Labs, the Software Factory, Digital Solutions and the Makerere Faculty of ICT, I think it’s just great to see Ugandan borne apps recognized like this.
Watch out, the Ugandans are coming!