The computer scientist uses programming tools to find lasting solutions that will help his community and country as a whole.

Umar Bolokada Mansaray is a Sierra Leonean entrepreneur and self-taught computer scientist with expertise in front-end, mobile development, and UI/UX design. He co-founded Smart H2O in 2022.

Smart H2O aims to revolutionize water purification using computer programming tools. With his startup, Bolokada won the Community Mining Innovation Challenge the same year.

Umar Bolokada grew up in eastern Sierra Leone, a mining region with abundant natural resources. However, due to mining activities, the region was plagued with significant water pollution, and consequently, people in the area had low access to clean and safe drinking water. Bolokada, therefore, felt a deep responsibility to solve this problem and help his people.

Smart H2O works on building an advanced system using Arduino (an open-source electronic prototyping platform) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to detect and purify polluted water. By employing cutting-edge technology, the system can rapidly analyze water samples, identify contaminants, and apply appropriate purification methods. This process proves to be more efficient, cost-effective, and eco-friendly compared to conventional purification techniques.

The turning point in Bolokada's journey came in late 2022 when he “was introduced to the Orange Fab lab through a supportive friend and mentor.” This incubation by Orange Fab proved to be a game-changer, “providing vital resources, mentorship, and access to a wide network of experts and investors,” he revealed. This support accelerated Smart H2O's development, enabling Bolokada and his team to refine their algorithms, conduct real-world tests, and expand their research in regions facing water contamination challenges.

Though at its infancy stage currently, Bolokada “aims to reach many communities and expand beyond Sierra Leone in the coming years.”

Before founding Smart H2O, Bolokada had launched another startup called Kam Rent Ya in 2020, which aimed to simplify the rental process for housing seekers. Available on the web and mobile, the solution helps users find and rent properties remotely.

Beyond his entrepreneurial ventures, Bolokada worked as a UI engineer for Women Power Africa, an organization advocating for gender equality, in 2020. The following year, he founded Her Choice, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering women and girls. Umar Bolokada Mansaray exhibits genuine leadership and innovation, poised to drive substantial transformation in the domains he operates within.

Hikmatu Bilali

Published in TECH STARS

Algerian entrepreneur Noureddine Tayebi, heads, from Silicon Valley, Yassir, a carpooling and home-delivery app. The platform, which works in Africa, Europe, and America, aims to diversify its offer and expand to french-speaking markets in sub-Saharan Africa.

After studying engineering in Algeria, Noureddine Tayebi (photo) flew to the U.S. in 1998 to pursue a master's degree in electrical engineering at the University of Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. After graduating, he went on to earn a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford University. In the late 2000s, he moved to Silicon Valley where he started working for Intel. There, he spent over eight years acquiring product management and marketing skills. He also gained real start-up experience at the US microprocessor and semiconductor manufacturer.

However, his entrepreneurial journey started in 2011, after securing 23 patents. In 2014, he founded his first company called InSense, specializing in nano-motion sensors, launched with two grants totaling $1.6 million. He later sold the business to a Silicon Valley company. In 2017, he co-founded Yassir. Originally deployed as a cab app, the platform has since diversified into fast food and grocery deliveries with Yassir Express, and most recently, with Yassir Market into grocery delivery.

The startup claims three million active users across Algeria, Canada, France, Morocco, and Tunisia. Over the past five years, its turnover has been growing steadily (up to 40% per month).  The app has helped, indirectly, create more than 40,000 jobs for drivers and delivery workers. In November 2021, Yassir closed a $30 million fundraising round with U.S. investors for its development. So far, the entrepreneur has successfully raised $67.6 million from 30 investors.

In the short run, Noureddine Tayebi's ambition is to develop Yassir in sub-Saharan Africa, especially in French-speaking countries like Senegal, Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin, Mali, and Cameroon. The Algerian affirms that the application is already working in Senegal, and other major markets on the continent such as South Africa, Nigeria, and Egypt.

"The goal is to create the largest technology company, not only in Africa but in the world. To achieve this, we need to be present in many markets," he says.

Aïsha Moyouzame

Published in TECH STARS

She is a pioneer in the webmaster industry in Congo. Her work earned her the nickname Mama Digital. And now, she is committed to putting digital technologies at the heart of Africa’s economic development.

Passionate about new technologies, Kriss Brochec is an expert in communication, management, and digital marketing. She made her debut on the Internet in the 2000s, thus becoming one of the pioneers of web mastering in Congo. Her mission: leveraging digital technologies to develop Congo’s economy. A Trainer, mentor, and entrepreneur, she also fights for women's rights and equality.

Kriss Brochec has a master's degree in international marketing and intercultural management and has professional experience in import-export where she has held important positions. However, after realizing that she was not cut for office life, she decided to devote herself entirely to the digital world. For the past 12 years, she has been passionate about CMS (Content Management System), especially WordPress, a content management system used for building websites.

She went on and founded the African Digital Academy, a space dedicated to digital training programs. The structure promotes the local production of digital platforms and content such as websites, mobile applications, MOOCs, white papers, and blogs, among others. Besides offering training, the academy creates special programs for target communities such as artists, entrepreneurs, women and youth, and farmers, to show them how they can benefit from digital technology.

With nearly 215 websites created and more than 240 people trained, Kriss Brochec does not intend to rest on her laurels. Beyond her various programs deployed in Congo and West Africa, she wants to bridge the digital divide across the continent, driven by the firm belief that the secret to success is to create your own market, dare to go where no one has gone before, and innovate. 

Aïsha Moyouzame

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Driven by her mission to spark the flame of innovation in women, Jessica Makosso birthed a network that promotes female talent. The Congolese native who lives in France hopes that her platform will become a reference for supporting women’s projects.

A business management graduate, Jessica Makosso (photo) began her professional career as a salesperson. After acquiring experience for over seven (7) years, she quit her job in 2016 and went to further her studies in France. There, she earned a master's degree in business unit management. While doing internships in the luxury fashion industry in Paris, she started bringing female talent to light.

Later, she founded the Association des Femmes Inspirantes (Association of Inspiring Women). This was a way for her to help advance female leadership. The association helps make women gain visibility through networking, turning their ideas into profitable businesses with a positive impact. One of the initiatives carried out by Association des Femmes Inspirantes is a program called “Saisis ta destinée” (Seize Your Destiny)". The latter fosters reflection on entrepreneurship from a female perspective and raises women’s awareness about the matter.

Besides her activities in France, Jessica Makosso would like to be active in African countries. In 2018, she organized the second edition of her “Seize Your Destiny” awareness program in Pointe-Noire, Congo. “Awareness activities will not be limited to Europe. They will also be carried out in Africa and since I’m Congolese it makes sense given that charity begins at home,” she explained.

Makosso’s successes helped her find several partners, including banks, energy companies, and international organizations. Her goal in the future is to make her association a key partner of women, helping them grow professionally and succeed as entrepreneurs.

Aïsha Moyouzame

Published in TECH STARS

In collaboration with Bertrand Dago and Terrence Kondou, Fabrice Koffi, MD of Dothan Group, has developed a simplified accounting application to revolutionize small businesses. The solution -Keiwa- has been successfully deployed in Côte d'Ivoire and is now targeting the entire continent.

Fabrice Koffi (pictured) holds a degree in accounting and has several years of experience in various consulting firms, as administrative and financial manager of Agritecno West Africa, and as partner and co-manager of Urim Thummim Conseil. With five years of experience in supporting Ivorian VSEs and SMEs, he decided to found his startup Dothan Group in 2017.

He teamed up with Bertrand Dago, a senior technician in electronic and computer systems, and Terrance Kondou, an engineer with a background in computer engineering, to create Keiwa. The solution is an accounting, financial management, and inventory management app that allows traders to manage their accounting easily.

The three young Ivorians share a common vision, which is to educate, support and empower informal sector entrepreneurs through simplified accounting.

The app was first launched in 2017 in Senegal before being rolled out in Côte d'Ivoire in 2020. It is designed to help African VSEs and SMEs track their daily operations, multi-site structures, as well as partners offering services to these companies. "The user can record his daily operations, manage his supply and have access to a clear activity report in real-time. Keiwa also enables remote monitoring of these activities and selective sharing of information with selected partners," according to information available on the Keiwa website.

In December 2017, the solution won the Coup de Cœur prize at the Societe Generale’s Pan-African Hackathon l'Arbre. Two years later, Keiwa was part of the second cohort of MTN Côte d'Ivoire's acceleration program, Y'ello Startup. In 2021, the startup joined the portfolio of I&P Acceleration Technologies, and benefits from financing and strategic support provided by the investment body and the team of Comoé Capital in Côte d'Ivoire.

Fabrice Koffi and his associates hope to make Keiwa a multinational company present in all countries of the African continent.

Aïsha Moyouzame

Published in TECH STARS

Congolese entrepreneur Dana Endundo Ferreira (pictured) has developed an online platform that serves as a melting pot for art lovers across the world. The platform, Pavillon 54, is presented as the “go-to platform for discovering, buying, selling and understanding Modern and Contemporary African Art.”

She has long worked in the financial sector but said: “I wanted to do something I was passionate about and where I could best utilize my skills.” Dana Endundo Ferreira has a Master's in Business Administration obtained in 2012 from Columbia University in the US. She then went on to specialize in digital strategies and digital marketing in US companies. In 2018, she moved to the UK, where she worked as a consultant for a fintech with business aspirations in Africa. With her background, she decided to do something she was passionate about.

The daughter of two art lovers wanted to create the first leading platform dedicated to the development of Africa's arts and culture, by Africans, for Africans, and the world. To achieve such a feat, she adopted a 3C strategy (commercial, content & community). The commercial aspect naturally involves the various purchases of African works. She then intends to offer educational content to fill the information gap on African art with a well-researched blog and other resources; and finally, she organizes events that help create a strong community where African cultures are shared and celebrated. To date, some 40 renowned artists are listed on Pavilion 54, where they exhibit a variety of works ranging from paintings, photographs, and sculptures that sell for $1,000 to $10,000.

While the numbers are promising, Dana Endundo Ferreira deplores the lack of financial support and infrastructure for the arts in Africa, despite the industry's strong international potential. “We will also soon dedicate a space on our platform to present and offer more visibility to young artists who do not have formal representation in galleries or other exhibition opportunities, but demonstrate great talent and potential," she said.

Aïsha Moyouzame

Published in TECH STARS

He is the founder of Insightiv, an AI and Teleradiology startup dedicated to improving medical imaging in Rwandan hospitals. The AI/ML engineer recently raised funds from the HealthTech Hub Africa and hopes to soon collaborate with Rwanda’s public health system.

In 2009, Audace Nakeshimana (picture) founded Insightiv, an AI and teleradiology startup. At the time, he was studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US. Besides being the founder and executive director of Insightiv, the Rwandan is also, since September 2020, a Machine Learning engineer at Apple. Setting up his business in Rwanda was motivated by the desire to involve local talent in technological development and his ambition to tackle African challenges.

Insightiv’s purpose is to provide easier access to medical imaging diagnostics. “Growing up, we heard stories about people who were sick and [didn’t] know what [they] had. Then that person [would come] home [and] they eventually die. It happens to a lot of people, especially in Africa - my grandma being one of them and actually one of my aunts. … If you really look at it, a lot of people die because of limited diagnostics,” Nakeshimana said.

Insightiv is developing advanced technology to help radiologists detect life-threatening diseases faster, by making medical imaging timely and accessible. The solution provides tools based on various image viewing modalities, giving medical imaging specialists access to a wide range of tools for better analysis. It allows them to create and submit reports using a single platform. As a cloud-based system, the Insightiv Diagnostics platform helps healthcare personnel focus on patient care rather than technical issues.

In 2020, Audace Nakeshimana was a finalist in the PKG Center's IDEAS Social Innovation Challenge, receiving $16,000 in funding. That same year, in December, he won the HealthTech Hub Africa competition and was awarded $30,000. The entrepreneur plans to use the funding to improve his service and reach out to legislators to collaborate with the public health system.

A decade from now, he plans to reach 10% of the Rwandan population with his rapid diagnostics solution.

"If you look today, the current health care system only has the capacity to diagnose about 200,000 to 300,000 patients [...] We think that if a private organization like Insightiv can take care of 10% of the population, that means we would be doing more than the national health care system is doing today. That's an ambitious, but realistic goal," the engineer claims.

Aïsha Moyouzame

Published in TECH STARS

Cameroonian Emmanuel Assom’s (pictured) desire to migrate to Europe, nearly eight years ago, is now only a memory. The entrepreneur gave up on this dream to launch a healthcare solution that is already well adopted in his country. The health tech solution OuiCare was launched nearly six years ago. The promoter claimed that by the end of 2021, his solution had registered 3,000 customers, out of more than 20,000 users.

He developed OuiCare, basically as an e-health booklet, to replace the paper booklet and allow patients to always have their medical records available on smartphones or computers. This way, patients can be received in a health facility regardless of the city or country they are visiting. This idea came to him after his father died at a health center where he had gone without his medical records. Emmanuel says the doctors could have acted more quickly if they had had access to the file.

Before OuiCare was born, the entrepreneur, who studied computer maintenance, was a cleaner at a local company and a computer troubleshooter. At that time, he gathered enough money and moved to Europe where he started a business with some friends. In 2016, they founded ASTA (Advanced and Suitable Technologies for Africa), a web and mobile app development company for businesses and individuals. He later on created OuiCare.

Today, after several improvements, OuiCare is now composed of two platforms. The first, for patients, allows them to access doctors, teleconsultation, and their medical data. The second, for doctors only, allows them to monitor patients and manage their treatment. The startup, based in Yaoundé and Douala, is working to integrate other features such as the geolocation of pharmacies.

In 2021, Emmanuel Assom won the Orange Prize for Social Entrepreneur in Africa and the Middle East (POESAM). The healthtech company received €25,000 and support from local incubator ActivSpaces and French Bond'innov. OuiCare has also joined the Cameroon digital innovation center (CDIC), the new incubator launched on February 8, 2022, by the government. With some thirty doctors already registered, the startup hopes to extend its services to all regions of Cameroon and then to other African countries, such as Senegal, where administrative procedures have already been initiated.

Ruben Tchounyabe

Published in TECH STARS

In 2019, Alexis Bafcop and Géraud Lacaze, two Orange engineers, launched a solution in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, to effectively meet the growing demand for online shopping delivery. 

Named Mahali, the solution was presented during the 3rd edition of the Abidjan e-commerce Days in December 2019. It is a mobile geo-tracking app that allows a seller and a buyer to agree on a geolocated point of delivery, in a country where addressing is still weak. The tool integrates a database of locations fed in part by users themselves, who can fill in their address by indicating the city, the neighborhood, and landmarks with photos. The delivery man receives a code that, once registered on Mahali, allows him to access the necessary information and to propose a delivery time to the buyer. The solution enables buyers to pay via mobile.

"The team studied how people locate and describe a place in the region. We interviewed people in e-commerce warehouses, deliverymen, buyers, startup creators, etc., to understand the reality and the challenges they face," says Alexis Bafcop. The addresses created in Mahali can also be shared for other purposes, such as emergency services or to direct visitors.

The project benefited from the support and guidance of Orange's intrapreneurship body -Intrapreneurs Studio. Mahali also relies on the expertise of Orange entities such as Orange Labs Services, XDLAB (UX design), and receives great support from Orange Côte d'Ivoire teams: Orange Money, Enterprise Services, Customer Test Center and data scientists.

A year ago, Alexis Bafcop explained that "users are the ones who create the value of the app. So it's free. The more the delivery landmarks are used, the more reliable they will be. In two years, when the database is sufficiently reliable and complete, merchants will be the most likely to pay for the service.” The app will soon be launched in other countries including Senegal and Cameroon, the founders said.

Ruben Tchounyabe

Published in TECH STARS

Africa has the lowest per capita car ownership in the world, due to limited access to finance for vehicle purchases. This is a problem that Ladi Delano and Jide Odunsi hope to solve with their start-up Moove Africa.

Ladi Delano (photo, right) and Jide Odunsi (photo, left), are two UK-based Nigerian entrepreneurs who want to democratize mobility in Africa through new technologies. They founded Moove Africa, a start-up offering a digital platform where users and entrepreneurs in the transport sector have access to loan options for the purchase of vehicles. From the London School of Economics to Oxford University to MIT, the entrepreneurial duo has a remarkable academic background.

Ladi Delano, a serial entrepreneur, and Jide Odunsi, a former investment banker at Goldman Sachs and a former management consultant at McKinsey, have a combined 8 years of entrepreneurial experience, with three start-ups launched including Moove Africa. Sharing a passion for African development, they decided to dedicate their experience to this goal.

They officially launched Moove Africa in July 2020 after realizing that the demand for vehicles in Africa far exceeds local production, leaving millions of individuals and businesses to depend on imports of used cars, cars that are mostly not in a good condition. Also, some countries, like Nigeria, have put in place measures that limit car imports to boost local manufacturing. These measures make it even more difficult for Africans to get cars.

Moove Africa was therefore born to help people get access to quality vehicles. The start-up has an app where users can secure loans to buy a car. The loans can be repaid over 30, 36, or 48 months, in weekly installments. To date, Moove-financed cars have made over 2.6 million trips and traveled over 30 million kilometers in six markets, namely Lagos, Accra, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Nairobi, and Ibadan.

In less than two years since they launched the start-up, Ladi Delano and Jide Odunsi have successfully raised $78 million from investors, including $10 million in their latest round. The funds were secured on February 1, from NBK Capital Partners.

"The investment…will fuel our continued growth trajectory as we expand our regional operations to empower more mobility entrepreneurs," said Ladi Delano, co-founder, and CEO of Moove Africa.

On February 10, Moove Africa's founders announced a partnership with CFAO Motors, a division of CFAO Automotive, which operates in 36 countries. "We’re especially proud to be working alongside the largest automotive distribution network in Africa and as a result of this, we’re now in an even stronger position to empower a new generation of successful and productive mobility entrepreneurs,” said Ladi Delano.

Aïsha Moyouzame

Published in TECH STARS
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