Many technology start-ups in Africa had humble beginnings and while many businesses start at the bottom, there is nothing wrong with dreaming big.
Here are some of the hottest technology start-ups from across the African continent and we believe they have what it takes to make it big in a world dominated by large international corporations with well-established business models.
1. Afroterminal.com (Nigeria)
Started by two Nigerians in 2009, Afroterminal aims to connect Africans worldwide. It is a Facebook of sorts, where users can upload videos, pictures and music, and share them with everyone on the network. In early February, the site had members in 50 African countries, while sporting numbers from 164 countries across the world. From a business perspective, Afroterminal offers networking features such as classifieds, e-business cards, events and an e-commerce section allowing members to buy African music, books and movies.
2. ForgetMeNot Africa (Zimbabwe/UK)
ForgetMeNot is a Messaging platform that has already been adopted by six major mobile operators in Africa. Their system’s biggest draw card is allowing users internet access via SMS. According to their website, the “platform bridges the gap between PC and mobile messaging by providing internet messaging on every mobile phone via eTXT’s”. The software has been so well-received that it won the best innovation prize at the annual Mobile Entertainment Forum’s (MEF) Meffy Awards.
3. Dropifi (Ghana)
Dropifi is a nifty web messaging platform helping companies analyse, visualise and respond to incoming messages from contacts. The platform allows users to analyse information, comments and feedback from a central dashboard, allowing you insight into negative and positive responses. The company also won the Accra Startup Weekend competition in 2011 for their efforts.
4. Prices.com.ng (Nigeria)
Being a consumer in a tough economy can be a daunting task, but Prices.com.ng aims to ease the decision-making process by providing users with up-to-date price comparisons. The website focuses on the pricing of appliances, books, computers, electronics, games, phones and Bulk SMS, presenting them in an easy-to-read format.
5. Paga (Nigeria)
Pagatech was founded in early 2009, aiming to transform lives by delivering innovative and universal access to financial services across Africa. Paga is their first product offering and is an interoperable mobile payments platform allowing any person with a mobile phone to electronic transactions, turning your phone into an electronic wallet.
6. BongoLive! (Tanzania)
BongoLive! is a mobile SMS services company. Users register, build up a profile and receive information on great deals from BongoLive! free of charge. “We believe that there is much more to be unleashed from the power of mobile and we want to create services that empower businesses, NGOs, government and consumers,” the site says.
Creators Yaw Boateng and Tunde Kehinde, brings you a social network with a difference. While it might be similar to sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, Bandeka caters for “well-educated, successful, professional Africans” users. The site is by invitation-only and users have access to all the usual functionality associated with social networks — as well as a match-making section.
8. TwinPine (Nigeria)
Nigeria’s latest mobile advertising network reaches millions of African consumers throughout Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya. Vanguard mobile, MTN, Jobberman and Pepsi have all employed their services. According to their website, they “currently serve advertising on the top Nigerian and international mobile publishers in the categories of news, sports, business, entertainment, sport and social networking”.
9. PesaPal (Kenya)
Mobile banking is increasingly becoming indispensable to many Africans, especially the unbanked. PesaPal is a mobile banking aggregator making it easier for users to buy and sell goods on the internet using M-Pesa, Zap or credit cards. The application also keeps financial records and contact information.
10. Hummba (South Africa)
Hummba is a social network for travellers that offers members access to free downloadable audio travel guides and the ability to share their travel experiences. Compatible with iOS and Android, the app boasts over a 100 cities’ worth of audio.
Charlie Fripp – Online editor