KWS14 – DAY 4 : how to set up a tech company in emerging markets?

Technology and Social Innovation week – Day 4: APPFRICA

On Thursday October 2nd, the fourth day of the Tech & Innovation week went on with a presentation from Appfrica, about how to set up a tech company in emerging markets. The conference was held in the EV Building at Concordia University with Appfrica Director Bahiyah Robinson, who was present via Skype.

Her presentation lasted about thirty minutes and ended with a Q&A session. Appfrica is a company founded in 2008 in Uganda, which allocates a portion of its profits to support social initiatives. Ms. Robinson mentioned the three pillars of the Appfrica mission:

1. Promoting access to information in the form of reliable data and trends, and access to markets;

2. Encourage inclusion and promoting the diaspora’s participation in the initiatives of their country;

3. Seizing opportunities in Africa: market growth, development in the labor market, growth of SMEs, interrelation between traditional investors and players in the traditional economy.

To achieve this, four spheres of initiatives have been implemented:

1. Information Management through the three main projects: Data and Analytics, D8A and Hive

2. Efficiency in logistics through the projects Meta Layer, Asayima

3. African Fund for financing start-ups

4. Financial Information: A valid information platform about the markets, the economic reality and local stock markets.

Why Africa, and why now?

The growth in revenue and household consumption among the African middle class is an opportunity to grab for entrepreneurs. The potential size of the continent’s middle class is equivalent to that of India and China combined. This represents an important market. Note for example that 600 million people use mobile phones. However, there are significant challenges, including corruption, lack of reliable financial information and lack of support from local governments. Some examples of success include:

• Farmerline: App created in Ghana that enables farmers to obtain relevant information, especially about the weather by managing data;

• Africa118: A tool created in Uganda, which provides audio geo-location information;

• A tool created for fund transfers Entrepreneurs who have projects they want to develop in Africa are invited to send them an executive summary of their project (2 pages max) with information on the team, market opportunities, solutions, how much money will be needed and how the funds will be used. A link to a website for understanding the brand, product or service and its positioning are important assets.

Although Appfrica is interested in start-up projects, they usually support loans marketing projects. Bahiya then gave some advice for entrepreneurs:

• Build on what you consider important;

• Base your actions on your deep ethics;

• Your team is key: incorporate talent, expertise, ethics, willingness and energy.

• Attend workshops on design thinking, make prototypes, test ideas and market and rotate as needed

• Go beyond the taboos and don’t limit yourself. Recognize what you know and what you do not know and continue learning.

• Build your network, and keep them updated on your plans, your progress, because the relationships you build are major assets for your success! As Josier Gosier “To be a Successful Entrepreneur you can’t fear failure, you have to love it, you have to chase it”

As always, the crowd has the opportunity to interact with the speaker. Louise Guay specially helped the Speaker to understand certain reality related to technology


The session was interesting, lots of advices and new ideas. The crowd enjoyed it.

participants semaine innovation sociale et technologie