East Africa’s mobile innovation space was represented at the 20th edition of the world’s premier annual conference – DEMO in September. The conference was hosted by Matt Marshall, the founder of publication VentureBeat. The event which is also a popular product launch platform for tech innovations took place at Hyatt Regency Silicon Valley in Santa Clara. East Africa’s Shimba Technologies Limited, was at this event to showcase MedAfrica – a mobile health solution for Africa and the developing world. The product which was initially called MedKenya had impressed judges at this year’s PIVOT25 conference in June 2011 to become the overall competition winner.
The sponsorship and facilitation to pitch at DEMO was PIVOT25 competition’s prize for the overall winner. In what was not only an important conclusion of 2011’s PIVOT25 but also significant progress for the local tech community, MedAfrica stood out in the global arena through the conference. It was a platform for over 90 companies from Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, America and the rest of the wold to showcase their products. “The conference itself was a blast and was very well organized to say the least”, Says Steve Mutinda – CEO of Shimba Technologies who lead the MedAfrica team which included Mbugua Njihia and Paul Okech. On the global exposure and networking opportunities, Steve adds, “The media and networking tools were well planned and this saw us get numerous networking opportunities with peers(companies launching at Demo), potential investors and potential partners.” Steve pledges that we will hear more from the team in the near future on the networks and partnerships they secured from the conference once they solidify.
MedAfrica is one of the innovations being incubated at m:lab East Africa. The product is focusing on bringing basic information about health and medicine to phones — not just smartphones — and enabling people to use that information on their own. It is a mobile app and widget based platform that seeks to deliver access to a wide spectrum of health content and services to millions of Africans from the comfort of their mobile phones. The product will initially launch with java and Android versions. According to the company, MedKenya was the proof of concept version that they had done for Kenya using the open data content from the Kenya government and they were ready to push the product to the rest of Africa as MedAfrica. The product is scheduled to go live on 1st October 2011 according to their website See the video of the presentation made by Mbugua Njihia and the team below.
Through the conference, MedAfrica went ahead to be recognized by TheNextWeb.com as one of their top 10 favourite start ups from the Demo 2011 conference. The DEMOgod winner in MedAfrica’s category was LumoBack, which had an impressive hardware and mobile app hack. Although MedAfrica did not go ahead to win the category amidst the world class competition, the team was singled out by two sages in their category as tackling real issues with a solution that can have tangible impact. MedAfrica also got featured on New York Times. According Erik Hersman – Co-founder of Ushahidi and iHub, “MedAfrica (and their pitch at demo) is just the tip of the iceberg, as we see more startup spaces, pitching events and seed capital entering the continent”.
This is a guest blog post by John Kieti, Lab Manager at the mLab East Africa. This piece was originally posted on the mLab East Africa blog. You can find it here.
MedAfrica is one of the companies incubated in the mLab East Africa; the Web Foundation is one of the partners of the mLab East Africa. For more info on the whole project, please see our project page.