MEST-Vodafone Hackathon Dairies (Day 1)

The sun rose quickly, almost in a hurry to see the hackathon begin. The eventful partnership between Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) was announced in pump and splendour with the C.E.O of Vodafone Harris Broumidis and the Managing Director of MEST Ekua Odoom in attendance.

This was quickly followed by a quick and exciting launch of the hackathon. The participants then went on a pitching spree selling their ideas and skills to another. By end of the day the    150 plus participants had formed 20 teams with different innovative ideas in the areas of Lifestyle and home services, security and alert systems, health, gaming and entertainment, and transportation and traffic. These keenly passionate developers had gathered to brainstorm on pragmatic solutions to pertinent issues plaguing Ghanaians in the above mentioned areas.

“On the whole it has been a great event so far. I have met really nice people and I think we have the winning team (DATEEM). The reception has been great and the food as well. The highest point of my day has the fantastic facilitators who have helped us snapped our idea. This is just great.” says Stephan Froelich, IBM End User Support officer, @frostymarvelous

Here are a few pictures of the day. Stay tuned for more updates. Day 1 is ending but hacking continues unabated. Good luck all.

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Ghanaian Entrepreneurs to Benefit From MEST-Vodafone Partnership

MEST MD, Ekua Odoom signs with Vodafone Ghana CEO, Harris Broumidis

Various initiatives and partnerships have been launched recently to drive entrepreneurship among the Ghanaian youth. Beyond the promises of the government to promote entrepreneurship, other private organisations who realise the need are taking the steps to nurture more entrepreneurs.

The Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology needs no introduction when it comes to software entrepreneurship across Africa. With more than 15 startups and 2 acquisitions, the school continues to chart the course of “creating globally successful software companies.”

Vodafone Ghana, one of the most profitable Vodafone branches worldwide, has been involved in providing avenues in the field of software development to bring out the best in Ghanaian youth and creating more economic opportunities. With the Mobile for Good program, and later the Vodafone App Star Competition, the involvement with the community keeps growing. (Evidence by Leti Arts winning the App Star Competition.)

This morning, the official MEST-Vodafone partnership was signed.  Under this partnership, Vodafone with its infrastructure and technology base will nurture and provide support for MEST and its related developer communities. Also at the event, the MEST Vodafone Hackathon lasting the next 3 days was launched. The  hackathon themed, “Powerfully Simple” presents software hackers with 5 categories within which they find pains and build viable solutions over the hackathon period.

Vodafone CEO, Harris Broumidis added that innovation from young entrepreneurs are needed because most groundbreaking software systems come from events like #MESTVodafone Hackathon. Since there is “myopia of operational framework” in large organisations, hackathons provide the platform for thinking out of the box and sparking ingenuity.”  He therefore challenged the participants to, “Go out there and change the world and make the changes that we all deserve.”

We look forward to more of such partnerships as entrepreneurship takes centre stage across the continent. Does this partnership benefit you as a software developer? What are your thoughts and questions?

LendingSquare Digitizes The Money Lending Sector In Ghana

Lending and borrowing is part of every business environment. A lot of individuals borrow from friends and family when they fall into debts of all sorts. However, sometimes you may run out of options, and banks may not be so friendly towards you. LendingSquare has found this problem, and has created a solution for it.

Product
LendingSquare was created to offer a more efficient, transparent and customer-friendly alternative to the traditional banking system that offers creditworthy borrowers lower interest rates and investors better returns. An alternative that gives more control to money owners and decision making to those it affects the most.

We operate fully online with no branch infrastructure, and use technology to lower cost and deliver an amazing experience. We want to help individuals to save more, businesses expand, investors earn better returns and the economy grow. Today, individuals and businesses can borrow directly from a wide network of lenders.

LendingSquare allows people to invest in each other in a way that is financially and socially rewarding — it offers a web platform and framework that helps individuals and small businesses access to fast and simple finance for personal and business related purposes. 
Value

  • Unlike the traditional financial institutions, LendingSquare does not lend money. The decision to lend or borrow exclusively depends on the lender and borrower respectively. The interest rate, loan amount and the payment term of the loan is determined by the lender and borrower. LendingSquare services all payments and transfers.
  • LendingSquare’s business model also offer social and marketing benefits that are unique in the P2P Lending community, which is creating awareness of, and interest in, the Businesses that borrow on the platform among prospective and participating customers and using social media to reach such customers.
Bragging Rights
Prior to going live on 17th November, LendingSquare was a finalist in the 2013 The indus Entrepreneur (TiE) business plan competition in Dubai and also an 88mph accelerator applicant. 
Team
  • E.I.MBALAM, Co-Founder/ C.E.O
  • MARK APPIAH KUSI, Co-founder/ COO
  • BENJAMIN OPPONG-KYEKYEKU, Chief Risk Officer
  • RICHMOND DUAFAH, Chief Commercial Officer
  • Hope Avalon Gagodo Little, CTO
  • MICHAEL DUGAH, Backend Developer
Development Stack
Confidential
Contact/Social Media/Job Openings
We are located at iSpace Foundation, F618/2 Anumansa, Lokko St.146 East X’borg Estate, Osu, Accra – Ghana.
Email: contactus@mylendingsquare.com or Call us +233 (0)26 871 0270 || +233 (0)506 776 108.
Facebook: lendingsquare

Turn Your Android Phone Into A Home Security Camera with Salient Eye

Salient Eye is on a mission to “democratize home security”.

At Salient Eye, we firmly believe home security is a right, not a privilege. We believe anyone should be able to have a security system, even those that can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars on the sophisticated ones. For this reason we develop and affordable and easy to use application that allows you to turn unused or old Android devices into an affordable but powerful home alarm system.

The core idea behind Salient Eye’s technology comes from a personal experience. Around two years ago Haggai Meltzer (Founder and CEO) went on a vacation with his wife. Once they came back home though, they made a bitter discovery: some burglars had broken into the apartment and stolen many valuables such as money, credit cards and personal computers.
While looking around the apartment to check out was missing and getting in touch with the police though, Haggai noticed something: the burglars didn’t steal a few old smartphones that were sitting unused in a drawer. For Haggai that was the “a-ha moment”, when he envisioned a technology able to transform unused phones into security cameras, and that’s how the basic idea behind the application was born.

Salient Eye turns any Android device into a full home camera security system. The Salient Eye application uses your phone’s camera to sense motion and makes alarm sounds when a break-in occurs. Salient Eye home security app catches intruders red-handed and immediately sends you pictures via email and SMS.

At the core of its technology lies a proprietary innovative algorithm developed specifically for the type of devices that are used for this purpose; it guarantees high quality in detection and high success rate. With Salient Eye home security application to you can turn any old or unused Android smartphone or tablet into an affordable fully functional alarm system against burglars break-ins.
We had great results so far: we surpassed 100.000 downloads and have great feedback with a 4.4 average rating! Our users love the technology and call it “the best motion sensing app” available in the market today.
In addition to this, the team is currently finalizing development of a Remote Control to be installed on the primary phone. It will allow to activate/deactivate “the eye” placed at home from anywhere at any time. The development team has always strongly focused on UX & UI, and this new feature has the objective to make the experience even smoother. How to set up and use the app (previous version), is represented in this video.

The team is comprised of a well balanced mix between software and mobile apps development, marketing & business development professionals.
  • Haggai Meltzer, CEO & Co-Founder
  • Amit Goldber, Co-founder & Board Member
  • Michele Aliverti-Piuri, CMO & Founding member
  • Asaf Schreiber, Mobile Developer
Their story has already been covered by important media such as BBC, Gizmodo, Digital Spy and Geektime just to mention a few. It mainly happened spontaneously, but now we are looking for more.


Accra to Host West Africa’s Top Entrepreneurs at Tech Camp W.A.

Several young people in Africa are making impact in the various sectors of the economy. Entrepreneurs, innovators, activists, etc. all contribute greatly to the growing economies of some of Africa’s fastest growing economies.

In its efforts to harness the young brains and in the spirit of sharing information for social good, the US Embassy in Ghana, in collaboration with GhanaThink Foundation, is organising West Africa’s premiere Tech Camp dubbed “Tech Camp West Africa”. The tech camp, similar to others which have been organised by the US State Department in several other countries will host about 100-150 participants from West Africa.

Happening from 6th – 8th February, 2015, the program aims to connect “civil society organisations across the globe with new and emerging technology resources to solve real world problems and build digital literacy through a two-day program.” The program will host regional speed-mentors from different sectors in governance, education, technology, and communications.

“The various sessions will empower about 100 entrepreneurs from the West African Sub-region as they share knowledge, and learn essential skills for disrupting the local tech and startup scene in their respective countries.”, Donald Ward, the Media and Marketing Chair for GhanaThink Foundation added.

GhanaThink Foundation is a Ghanaian youth development NGO that seeks to identify and groom young Talents for the greater benefit of Africa as a whole. For more details, write to info@techcampwestafrica.org or call +233-233-301-389, +233-272-413-200.

Applications for the event have already closed and the participants duly selected. The program promises to be a re-energizing time for the participants and for the social good, eventually. Find out more on techcampwestafrica.org or Global Tech Camps [http://techcampglobal.org]

Are you a part of the participants for the program? What are your expectations as the program comes off soon?

Solve Real-World Problems At The MEST-Vodafone Hackathon (February 5-7, 2015)

Over the past year, Ghanaian developers have been involved in several hackathons on various sectors in oil and gas, social good, citizenship, etc. Sometimes, I wonder if these activities are able to achieve the desired results. Many teams usually just come for the money and leave.

I have been fortunate to witness just about 2 MEST hackathons It gets more exciting as the years go by, from being in the winning team two years ago to covering it last year. The participation of developers outside MEST has increased over the years, same for the organisations involved.

This year, MEST has partnered with Vodafone Ghana to host the 2015 MEST-Vodafone hackathon which comes off from Feb 5 – 7. This is a major development as the telecoms company is beginning to gain an interest in the developer space and tech in general. First with App Star, then Mobile for Good. This hackathon promises to be better as it looks at simplifying processes across various sectors in Ghana, processes we long for daily.

It’s an opportunity to build products which provide access to information, simplify transactions, and shorten business processes, etc. As usual the prizes have been bumped up for this year – I caught wind of something exciting, details will be out later. Just stay tuned to hear more about the prizes for this year.

Participation is free, register through this link, the seats are limited. Hackathons are fast becoming a part of Ghanaian tech culture now. I hope we begin to fully appreciate and continue development on the products which are built at these events. I look forward to this hackathon. Will you be there? Any experiences of hackathons to share?

Lagos To Host DEMO Africa Again In 2015!



Preparations for the 2015 edition of DEMO Africa have begun with Lagos successfully bidding to host the global event for the second year running. The event dates have been confirmed as 24th and 25th of September at the Eko Hotel and Suites.
This presents another chance for 40 more start-ups from across Africa to showcase their innovations on the DEMO Africa platform. The launch of new innovations is expected to prompt the attending audience of potential investors, IT buyer and consumers towards actions that will gain Africa further traction in the global start-up scene.
Lagos success to host the event for the second time is a direct result of the Federal Government’s endearing support to the ICT sector through the Ministry of Communication Technology. Notable moves include the recent announcement by the ministry to conduct a Government seeded IT Innovation Fund and committing US$ 9m as seed capital. The ministry has also made direct contact with the alumni who have participated in various technology competitions with the aim of assessing their needs and providing various interventions.
The Minister of Communication Technology, Dr. (Mrs.) Omobola Johnson in her comments stressed that ‘’We are pleased that DEMO Africa will be hosted in Nigeria for the second time. DEMO Africa provides a veritable platform for young Nigerian and African youths to showcase their creativity and innovation and push Africa’s frontier in the global space’’.
Lauding the efforts of the Ministry, Harry Hare, Executive Producer of DEMO Africa cited their actions as the cue that should be emulated by governments across Africa to ignite the already fizzing innovation energy by youths in Africa. “Efforts by young entrepreneurs are the sustainability upon which the future of generations in Africa rests.” He commented.
The application platform is set to open in late February. Since the event took place in September, more than ten start-ups that participated have already wooed investment opportunities. These include; Nerve, Chura, Paysail, Spacepointe, Irofit, Hutbay, and Cube. Others are at an advanced stage in the negotiation with various investors and companies interested in mergers.
Mr Yele Okeremi, the Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee pledged to bring together all machineries that will be necessary to make another success of the 2015 event. ”This presents another chance to bring together Africa’s most innovative minds and I promise the committee’s commitment to the success.”
This year, the event will include a host of other activities including an investor roundtable forum, LIONS@FRICA Summit and a boomcamp, with the uptake of Africa generated technology being expected to dominate the conversations.
In order to increase effectiveness, DEMO Africa will run several pre-demo contests in various countries as the beginning of the vetting process for the start-ups. Start-up entrepreneurs are encouraged to put their structures in place before end of February when the application platform will open.
All the applications will be vetted by a panel of judges comprising experts in Tech and Business who will shortlist the best forty on their ability to link creativity, innovation and effectiveness
The event will be co-hosted by The Ministry of Communication Technology-Federal Government of Nigeria, National Information Technology Agency-Nigeria and DEMO Africa in partnership with VC4Africa and Afrilabs.
For more information please contact:
Evelyne Wangui | Project and Communication Manager
Office:+254  20  404 1646
Mobile:+254  726 087 451
Email: evelyne.wangui@demo-africa.com
Yele Okeremi |Chairman, Local Organizing Committee

Get To Know TooKnow.com, the Local Search Engine for Ghanaian Listings

It’s commonplace to head to one of these e-commerce sites to search for an item. Very often, before one makes a purchase online, you’d check various websites so you don’t miss out on any better deals. It comes in handy when you can find all in one place. In a related experiment, I once tried to curate a list of Ghanaian listings site, I lost!

TooKnow.com comes to solve all that. It’s a localised search engine which curates listings from different listings and classified websites in Ghana. It categorises the listings so as to make it easy to sort and find what you are looking for. It makes use of one of Google’s previous (tried and tested) search results page’s interface to categorise the listings.

The clean interface presents the use with an option to search specifically under one of the four common listing categories mainly job, realty, shopping, and autos. Tooknow.com is a product of Encodev Labs, the brain behind MPower Payments, one of the leading payment solutions in Ghana. Encodev Labs is fast becoming one of Ghana’s most trusted software companies in this new age of web and mobile apps.

In Ghanaian parlance, “too know(n)” is simply a know-all. This is probably to suggest that tooknow.com knows where all the listings are based. Is this going to be the new phase of e-commerce in Ghana? Will the new thing be having search engines for online listings just as e-commerce sites flooded the market? Share your thoughts.

Leti Arts Wins at International Vodafone AppStar Competition

Eyram receiving his award. Photo credit: Vodafone Ghana

Leti Arts has been known as a pioneer for mobile games in Africa. From its beginnings with iWarrior all the way to Africa’s Legends and then to the World Cup Games for MTN Ghana, Leti Arts has become an established game brand through its awards and nominations.

Later last year, Leti Arts won in the “Most Established App” category in the Vodafone AppStar Competition in Ghana when it presented Africa’s Legends. This qualified the bonafide game company to the international competition held in India earlier this week together with Vicinity App, the winner for Upcoming Developer category from Ghana.

AppStar is the Annual Developer Contest conducted by Vodafone, for developers across several countries of African & Asian continent, to promote local talent & bring them to the international stage.

In the international competition in India this year, Leti Arts competed with several other app stars from Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and India.

Leti Arts came tops internationally as the winners were announced. Second place was CarGuru from South Africa, which simplifies “your motoring experience, to provide one easy-to-use resource for all your motoring needs.”

We are excited a Ghanaian company has won this international competition setting an example for several upcoming tech startups from Ghana. Congratulations to the team!

Have you tried any of Leti Arts’ apps yet? What do you think about Vodafone App Star?

Game Nerd To Celebrate Global Game Jam at iSpace (January 23 – 25)

Photo Credit: GameNerd, Inc.

Only a few game-related tech startups have been birthed in Ghana. With the successes of Leti Games, a few more game communities are springing up in Ghana. GameNerd Inc, hosted at iSpace, is one of them.
From January 23 – January 25, GameNerd will celebrate with the rest of the world as it commemorates the Global Game Jam in Ghana. The event will bring together game creators and enthusiasts countrywide to share ideas and to build the Ghanaian gaming community.

The Global Game Jam (GGJ) is the world’s largest game jam event (game creation) taking place around the world at physical locations. Think of it as a hackathon focused on game development. It is the growth of an idea that in today’s heavily connected world, we could come together, be creative, share experiences and express ourselves in a multitude of ways using video games – it is very universal.

To participate, register on the Global Game Jam website: http://globalgamejam.org/2015/jam-sites/gamenerdispace-global-game-jam-2015
For other information, check the event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/492188057587277/ or contact Paul Ziem at paulnziem@gmail.com