Kenya's Home To 5 Top African Mobile Startups

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A customer conducts a mobile money transfer, known as M-Pesa, inside the Safaricom mobile phone care centre in the central business district of Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 15, 2013. Reuters

Though Nigeria is usually touted as the emerging tech hub for Africa, Kenya is also a front-runner. It was the original home of the M-Pesa mobile payment platform and big data collector Ushahidi.

DEMO Africa, a conference dedicated to helping African tech startups, just released a list of 40 tech companies that will have a chance to launch their products and pitch to investors at a conference in Lagos this September.

On DEMO’s list, five of the projects hailed from Kenya.

Here’s a quick breakdown:

 

The Pearl Dream Inc.

This digital story collection focuses on African stories for kids, while also selling animation-inspired items on its site. Starting with works in the public domain, the startup is now commissioning original work from writers from all over Africa, and adding illustration. Its website also has a retail component, selling products related to the stories.

“Dream Africa is an application that we hope will bring African writers who write African stories to a bigger audience,” CEO Brian Asinga said in a recent interview.

SokoNect

This app allows farmers in rural areas to get immediate updates on agricultural news, compare market prices and find buyers for their produce.

“The middlemen have always benefited, but with SokoNect the farmers just use their mobile phones,” said co-founder Mbuvi Nyami in the company’s pitch video for the DEMO conference.

Valuraha Trader

This software developer has created a tool to help users learn about the African finance industry. Its virtual trading platform is based on the Nairobi Securities Exchange and lets users play the stock market virtually, without losing any money.

“The purpose of the platform is to promote the teaching of financial courses but above all enhance one’s understanding of their investment options in our financial ecosystem,” reads their DEMO pitch.

ASim

This product is meant to help small and medium enterprises (SME) keep track of various operations, from warehouse storage to field sales vans, using a mobile phone or tablet, using an integrated Point of Sales software.

It's the flagship product of Olivine Technology, which aims to “transform SME businesses, NGOs and sub-national governments in developing economies into world-class organizations.”

Chura

For mobile users that constantly cross borders or go in and out of various provider ranges, the solution is a phone with two separate SIM cards. Chura lets users combine their airtime and payments in one place, making the situation easier to handle, and causing less waste in unused airtime.

“This service gives you the freedom to exchange airtime from one service provider to another. For example if you have Safaricom airtime, you can exchange it for Orange airtime,” its website says.

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