PIVOT East is an innovative startups competition geared towards nurturing the growing ICT talent in East Africa. Since YourStory published the PIVOT East startup competition announcement earlier this year, around 75 startups have gone through the competitive filtering process and 25 made it to the semifinals. Over $50,000 dollar prize was set aside for five startups to take home $10,000 each. And the winners will have access to m:lab, East Africa’s year-long incubation program.
PIVOTEast 2014 was an impressive event in so many metrics, from the quality of startups which were competing, to the credibility of the judges, the kind of enthusiastic audience that attended and the format of the event. But for me personally what stood out was the inclusive nature of the event. I’ve seen so many startup events since 2003/2004 and this is the only one where I’ve seen an equal number of women representation. These women were presenters on the stage, some were founders, and some were even the winners. There were smart women Judges. There were women panelists and 85% of the event had a woman emcee.
Yes, the ecosystem in East Africa is at an early stage compared to other ecosystems in Israel, and India. I’ve met female founders, consultants, startup employees, female VCs and event organizers. This is very encouraging; it shows we are leap fogging the areas (women in tech) even Silicon Valley struggles with. Without the shadow of a doubt, among other things, gender inclusion is one thing that this ecosystem in east Africa has gotten right. It is a step in the right direction. In fact, it’s not just the competing startups which won it’s a victory of PIVOT EAST as well!
The 25 startups which pitched at the final conference competed across five different categories: Mobile Society Category, Mobile Entertainment Category, Mobile Finance Category, and Mobile Utilities Category. The startup mix comprised one startup from Ethiopia, one from Tanzania, five from Uganda and 18 from Kenya. There was no representation of startups from Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan this year even though the stage was open to them. We hope to see some startup representation from these regions in the coming years.
Without further ado,
here are the winners of PIVOT East 2014 in the five categories.
In a special category, the Founders’ Award went to the Ethiopian-based startup OnlineHisab.com, a cloud-based accounting solution for Ethiopian SMEs.
The Mobile Society Category winner was SokoText.com, based out of Kenya. This Nailab incubated startups uses SMS based pre-ordering service to make it easier for small mama mbogas (fruit and vegetable sellers) in slums to get their daily stock. SokoText is based in Mathare slum in Nairobi. TotoHealth from Kenya came up as 1st runners up in a same category. They enable hospitals and organizations to communicate and provide targeted information on antenatal & postnatal care using low-cost phones.
The Mobile Entertainment Category winner was UbongoKids, based out of Tanzania. Ubongo Kids is a multiplatform, interactive edu-cartoon with SMS interaction broadcasting on TV to kids in Tanzania and online for kids around the world. They are looking to expand across Africa and already have a deal with Startimes to kick this off. Safari Tales from Kenya was 1st runners up in a same category. They are an edutainment startup who develops hyper local mobile applications for children to access Digital African Narratives and learn African Languages.
The Mobile Enterprise Category winner was ASiM Mobile, based out of Kenya. ASim Mobile is a supply chain mobile solution integrated seamlessly with most popular accounting, ERP apps in the world. Online Hisab from Ethiopia was the 1st runners up in a same category. They provide a cloud-based financial management for Ethiopian SMEs. Besides offering an affordable and easy to use accounting solution they also help SMEs to be tax compliant with the local govt.
The Mobile Finance Category winner was ChamaSoft, based out of Kenya. It has an intuitive and simple to use dashboard. And it is a group management platform which manages administration of Chamas (Chama is like a chit fund), allowing them to concentrate on investment rather than administration. Beyonic from Uganda was 1st runners up in the same category. Beyonic is a startup that seeks to eliminate cash by creating the best solutions that enable business to make payments using mobile money.
The Mobile Utilities Category winner was Sendy, based out of Kenya. A platform for on-demand delivery. With the tap of a button, they instantly connect senders and riders and enable payments via mobile phones. MaraMoja from Kenya was 1st runners up in a same category. Few folks call MaraMoja as the UBER for the Kenyan market where not just any driver, but only trusted drives are chosen. MaraMoja thinks relationships are important. In Kenya, you trust your regular driver or your friend’s. MaraMoja gives you access to your friend’s drivers via Uber like mobile experience.
Stay tuned, you’ll hear more about them soon.
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