technology

Cohort 1 Graduation: Project Autistech

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The first Cohort of the Autism Tech Project completed their classes on 28th April 2017. The project is on a pilot basis and is the first project of its kind in Strathmore University. The project seeks to create an environment whereby certain individuals on the Autism auti2Spectrum can be trained on Software Testing and other areas of IT and get employment. @iLabAfrica partnered with IBM, who provided their software testing tool.  After a series of interviews, 5 students were selected to pioneer it at @iLabAfrica.

 

 

Background

Project Autism Tech was conceived in November 2015 as a possible means to addressing the problem of unemployment amongst capable individuals in the Autism Spectrum within the field of software testing. This specific area was selected because it is a model that has been successfully proven in all continents of the world except in Africa.

@iLabAfrica, being a Research Centre in Strathmore University established in 2011 to spearhead Research and Innovation in the ICT for the Development (ICT4D) ecosystem towards the attainment of the UNDP Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Kenya’s Vision 2030, was selected by the Project pioneer to partner in the execution of the pilot project.

The project sought to create an environment whereby certain individuals on the Autism Spectrum could be trained and get employment on the basis of their areas of strength. Software Testing & Quality assurance is one such area where people with Autism have been known to excel and thus the project was borne.

Training

The 5 Candidates went through a series of classes that comprised of Information Technology, soft skills and life skills. In IT they learnt about software testing, data entry, cloud computing, basic programming and Internet among others. Some of the soft skills they were taught were communicating with colleagues, respecting personal space, advocating for themselves and professionalism of work. They were also taught on how to do interviews, going through contracts and seeking advice before signing any agreement with companies or persons. They were exposed to making and doing presentations in order to show and sell any ideas and information when required.

“The experience has helped the candidates grow a lot socially since the beginning of the project. Initially, they had difficulties in holding conversations and teamwork. These communication and social challenges are due to the fact that they are on the autism spectrum. But with time, through intensive coaching and role playing, a huge improvement has been seen. Today they are able to hold group discussions and work in a team with minimal supervision”, said Naomi Nyambura who is their Job coach.

The project gave the candidates an opportunity to make friends and have meaningful work relationships with neuro-typical colleagues. Through the pilot project, those in the university were sensitized on Autism and what it is all about and were able to connect with the candidates and  assist them in any way possible.

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Outcome of the Project

From the training, the candidates were able to learn about research and documentation and make presentations based on the research. The candidates were also able to learn about software testing which included practical sessions on manual and automated software testing. They used the IBM software testing tool to do the automated testing successfully. Other areas that the candidates were trained on was cloud computing, programming in Java and website development. During the graduation ceremony, one of the candidates was offered an internship opportunity at Kenya Communication Centre for Learning (KCCL) by the Principal.

The ego, confidence and morale of the candidates also improved a great deal as a result of being in the Autism Tech project. They had always dreamt of being in a university, being accepted and treated normally without discrimination. This is what they got and it has helped them increase their self-belief, and worked hard throughout their training. Their goal is to get employed, to be independent. This project opened a door for this goal to be achieved.

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All in all the Autism Tech project has been a great success. It is evident that with continued support, people with disabilities have a chance of getting training in IT and getting meaningful employment thereby becoming independent and leading a more normal life.

Be part of Startup Mentoring by Enpact.

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Are you ready to scale up your business/ startup and looking to work closely with international experts and mentors

 Who can apply?

Entrepreneurs who…

  • Are beyond concept validation and prototype phase in their market
  • Want to improve their business operations with insights and best practices from experts and international mentors and other fast-moving entrepreneurs
  • Wish to experience an outstanding and long lasting personal and entrepreneurial journey alongside engaging in the enpact community
  • Are from Kenya, Germany, the East African region or Europe
  • are committed to doing the entire 8-month mentoring programme.

What is in it for you?

You will…

  • Work on new and exciting challenges to overcome with team, funding, product development, positioning, pivoting or business development
  • Explore new markets or consolidate within the national market
  • Pitch to an extensive network of partners (corporates, investors, influencers, etc.)
  • Gain exposure via international and regional media outlets
  • Exchange stories about failures, lessons, tips and tricks with the enpact community.

What is the programme about?

Over the last few years, startup mentoring by Enpact has driven ambitious entrepreneurs to overcome obstacles, scale their business, connect internationally with partners and gain new insights to develop their strategy and strengthen their management skills.

So far, more than 200 entrepreneurs have been through our programme and we have developed a pool of 100+ highly qualified mentors & experts. Participants from our earlier programme have employed 4 or more people in the first year and we are proud to see that they have a 80% survival rate.

Click here if you want to know more about what makes Enpact 8-month international mentoring program special!

 

Call for Applications: Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge

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Five hundred billion devices and objects will be connected to the Internet by 2030!

Things like wells, cars, watches, refrigerators, and more will be connected to the Internet for the first time so that they can transmit and receive information. Digitization is about connecting people and things to the Internet so that the information those connections provide can be used to improve processes and decision making.

With digitization and the Internet of Things (IoT), good ideas can make a difference more quickly than ever before by driving economic development and helping people solve some of our most

Who Should Enter?

This challenge is open to students or recent alumni from any college or university. For detailed eligibility requirements, please click here .

Areas of impact could include, but are not limited to:

  • local industry/economic development
  • critical human needs (food, water, shelter, and disaster relief)
  • healthcare
  • economic empowerment/financial inclusion
  • education
  • environment
  • connectivity

Digital Technologies that enable these innovations may include, but are not limited to:

  • connected/smart solutions (smart home, smart city, smart energy)
  • connected transportation
  • wearables
  • big data
  • analytics
  • cloud computing

We are awarding $300,000 to support Global Problem Solvers. Click here to read more about the prizes.

Application Process

  • March 30 2017: Applications Open
  • May 30 2017: Applications Close
  • June 12, 2017: Finalists announced
  • June 12,-28th 2017: Peoples Choice Voting
  • June 29: Winners Announced

Why you should participate?

  • Huge cash infusion to develop your company or solution
  • Global recognition and publicity for your company or solution
  • Looks great on a resume or in a prospectus to potential funders
  • Review by Cisco technology experts and high profile judges
  • Peer and industry validation for your solution

 Digitize. Do More Good.

To learn more and take part in this challenge,please click here.

Call for Application: IDEA Foundation Seed Stage Accelerator Cohort 1 2017

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Description

The Idea Foundation Seed Stage Accelerator is a three months long incubation program that empowers entrepreneurs to launch globally scalable innovation-driven startups that solve relevant local challenges.

Details:

Selection-Our selection process is a unique full-day workshop and pitch presentation (after a week) where participants are trained and equipped with the most relevant lean startup tools to conduct customer discovery and validation. Teams then pitch to demonstrate customer-problem fit. The teams are also trained and equipped with the tools and skills for business modeling. They develop a business model to be tested during the incubation period. Teams that pass the selection interview and already having proof of concept and early traction (users and customers) proceed to submit an application for seed funding to IDEA Foundation.

Training-Selected teams undergo an intense two weeks curriculum designed to quickly orient them into the nuances of business skills, entrepreneurship and lean startup techniques. The training will equip the participants with the knowledge and skills across entrepreneurship, business modeling, team development, business processes, presentation skills and pitching, product development and lean startup methodology. Classes take place in the evening from 5:30 to 8:30 pm and on Saturdays from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm.

 Mentoring and Coaching-Teams will have access to top mentors and coaches from industry and Strathmore University.

 MVP and Proof of Concept-Concurrently with the training, teams embark on building an MVP for proof of concept. They also run experiment to test the business model. The duration for this is one month. Teams pitch to demonstrate proof of concept and to submit application for seed funding.

 Seed Funding-Applications for seed funding are submitted to the selection committee that approves them of review by the Idea Foundation Investment Committee. Applicants can apply upto KES. 500,000.

Who Should Apply

  • The program is open to teams lead by Strathmore Students and Alumni only. Women and alumni are highly encouraged to apply.
  • The program is open to small synergized entrepreneurial teams with balanced skill sets, relevant experience and passion to execute and succeed.

Selection Criteria

  1. Applicants must be Strathmore Students or Alumni (At least one applicant in the team).
  2. Applicants must be in a team of 2 to three people with relevant technical and business skills required in the startup.
  3. Applicants must be physically available to participate in the program  during the entire duration of the program.
  4. Only the applicants that will successfully complete the selection workshop will be admitted into the program.
  5. Applicant must demonstrate innovation and address relevant local challenges with impact on the sustainable Development Goals

Themed Categories for the Program

  1. Agritech-Innovations in agriculture
  2. Edtech-Innvations in education
  3. Healthcare
  4. Fintech
  5. Energy
  6. Governance and Ethics

Duration: 3 months

Dates: 

  1. Open Call for Applications-27th April 2017
  2. Deadline call for applications-27th May 2017
  3. Incubation-May-August 2017

To apply to this call. Please fill in this form.

The Event That Was: Nairobi Tech Week (N TW)2017

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#NTW2017 was the hashtag buzzing the 4-day event between 22nd March and 25th March 2017 all over social media. This year’s event was arguably the best one yet as it united local and global software and industry leaders, coupled with developer workshops and challenges, as well as informative panel discussions, all of which had a huge impact to all attendees.

After opening keynotes from Facebook, Moringa School and @iBizAfrica – Strathmore University representatives the NTW2017 participants were introduced to the event with very interesting sessions. The first one was a Scrum Training aimed at teaching participants on the development and deployment of resilient financial USSD applications. Occurring concurrently was a workshop by Safaricom that educated the participants on Intellectual Property and it’s importance in today’s technology space. Google also had a very interesting workshop on building scalable web applications through the Google Cloud Platform.

After the lunch break the participants had a hard time on deciding which workshop to attend as they all looked exciting.

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JUMO WORLD facilitated one session on MOB Programming, Moringa School had theirs on designing for Mobile and Intel enlightened attendees on the fundamentals of Machine Learning, Deep Learning & Artificial Intelligence. It wasn’t any easier in the evening as Brave Ventures in their workshop challenged the participants to think like Data Scientists.

Participants who attended the Dalberg workshop learnt how to create an effective relationship between Developers and Designers, while those who attended the Facebook workshop got to understand the business opportunity on the Facebook Messenger platform and how to leverage and maximize on the Messenger Bot API.

Day 2 commenced with the kickoff of the Angel Hack Hackathon with Facebook and JUMO which challenged developers to unite and come up with innovative mobile solutions.

NTW3Developers were so engrossed in the hackathon as they were ready to stay overnight developing their applications. They did! There was the promise of mind-blowing prizes and opportunities for the winners on each challenge, which kept them highly motivated.

 

In the meantime, there were several workshops and panel discussions as well. Industry experts from Twiga Foods, Cellulant, Seven Seas Technology, Summit Recruitment and Frontline SMS consisted of a panel that enlightened the attendees on the best ways to acquire developer talent in Sub Saharan Africa. Up next was another illuminating panel and workshop facilitated  by Dalberg, Brave Ventures, BRCK and Mercy Corps representatives on bringing UX (user experience) to new startups. The day was concluded with the Developer-Startup Speed Networking event. The hackathon continued overnight and on to the third day.

NTW4The third day began with a panel and workshop on Cyber Security. Representatives from KPMG, Ernst & Young, Euclid Consultancy as well as the Government discussed various issues on security facing the society such as lack of proper awareness, social engineering, IoT security and ransomware. They also advised the attendees on some practical things they can do to protect themselves and their organizations. The afternoon session was yet another educative workshop and panel discussion on The Do’s and The Don’ts of Product Management. There was also a TechTalk event which entailed the Previous, Present and Future of Technology.

By the time it was Day 4, the attendees were very informed and knowledgeable. Little did they know how promising the final day would be. It started off with a CTO panel discussion on scaling products into new markets, from both the operational and technological perspectives. The panel consisted Chief Technology Officers from JUMO, Safaricom, Cellulant and Facebook. They enlightened the participants how companies build products for scale, considerations they make as well as their challenges and experiences on the matter.

NTW5The next panel consisted of representatives of Eneza, BRCK, M-Shule and @iLabAfrica who discussed how developers can build tech products that uniquely serve the education sector. Liquid Telecom, Chimera, @iLabAfrica and MKOPA were also involved in another panel discussion concerning the Internet of Things (IoT) and its numerous applications. The final panel discussions before lunch break was the applications of Data Science in Fintech (with speakers from Eclectics, Juntos, IBM, Neveru, Busara and Intellipro) and how Technology is revolutionizing and disrupting traditional industries, with great emphasis on logistics; by TechMoran, Lori, Sendi, Vitumob and SokoWatch.

The afternoon sessions included a discussion by speakers from Techweez, Bithub Africa, Kimwatu and Crypto Assets on bitcoin and the implications of Blockchain technology in Africa. A panel with speakers from Intel, Microsoft, ProLabs and M-Changa engaged with the attendees on Artificial Intelligence and how it has taken the world by storm, with greater focus on Africa.

NMG, Twiga Foods, Gro Intelligence, WeFarm and FarmDrive on their panel discussion talked about agriculture and what technology can do to enhance agriculture. An E-commerce panel of representatives from Jumia, Mookh, Jumia Market and BuyRentKenya shared their experiences, strategies and challenges of e-commerce demands and supply chain and logistics.

Net Neutrality in Kenya was also a topic of discussion in another session. The final panel discussion of the day was on the role of corporates in supporting developers and SMEs by Moringa School, JUMO, Liquid Telecom and Facebook.

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The 4-day event was concluded with a closing keynote from the various companies as well as announcing the winners of the AngelHack Hackathon. This years winners of NairobiTech week was PesaPocket. @iBizAfrica will offer 3 months free Incubation services to the top 3 winners of the Nairobi Tech Week

Apply: Facebook Bots for Messenger Challenge

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For many years Facebook has been promoting innovation across the Middle East and Africa, providing startups with the tools they need to build, grow, monetize, and measure. Facebook grew out of a hacker culture, and we thrive on seeking out and promoting innovation on new platforms. That’s why they are launching the Bots for Messenger Challenge, a contest to recognize and reward developers who are able to create the most innovative new bots on Messenger in (i) the Middle East and North Africa; and (ii) Sub-Saharan Africa across one of these these three categories:

  1. Gaming and Entertainment
  2. Productivity and Utility
  3. Social Good

Teams of up to 3 people are invited to participate in the Challenge. The submission period runs from February 15, 2017 to April 28, 2017, and winners will be announced on June 19, 2017.

In view of this, Facebook will be partnering with AfriLabs to implement the Bot challenge through our network. We will like to request for your shipping address so we will be able to send across the Facebook posters for the Bots Challenge once received from them.

AWARDS
Finalist Teams
From each region (i) Middle East and North Africa; and (ii) Sub-Saharan Africa, 30 finalist teams (10 from each category) will win a Gear VR and mobile phone, Facebook mentorship and up to $40,000 USD in tools and services from FbStart, a Facebook program designed to help early stage mobile startups build and grow their bots

Note: All student teams or individual student entrants who make it to the finals will receive an additional $2,000 USD.

Runner Up Teams
For each region, 3 runner up teams (1 from each category) will win $10,000 USD and 3 months of Facebook mentorship.

Winning Teams
For each region, 3 winning teams (1 from each category) will win $20,000 USD and 3 months of Facebook mentorship.

DEADLINE
April 28, 2017

RULES 
Please review the Terms & Conditions carefully before registering.

Some important rules to note:

    • Bots must be created, and will be verified, between February 15, 2017 to April 28, 2017. Bots created before February 15, 2017 will not be eligible to participate.
    • Bots must comply with all Facebook for developers Messenger Platform developer guidelines and rules, and use the Messenger Platform API.
    • Any bots created on other non-Messenger bot platforms will be excluded.
    • Bots must be created by people in the Entrant’s home region of either (i) the Middle East and North Africa or (ii) Sub-Saharan Africa.
    • Bots may be in any language (or combination of languages). Only the Bot Submission must be entirely in English.
    • It is optional to submit a link to an online video of the bot, but if you do, the video must be under 2 minutes long.

Judging Criteria

    • Technical Quality – How well does the Bot use the Messenger platform features? [35%]
    • Non-Technical Quality – What is the degree of excellence of the Bot, taking into account the Bot’s distinctive attributes and characteristics (except for the technical aspects)? [35%]
    • User Experience – How usable is the Bot for the intended audience, including how well the conversation flows? [30%]

To learn more and participate in the challenge, kindly visit here.

Follow @iLabAfrica onTwitter and Instagram to learn more about our work

Microsoft’s #Insiders4Good Program in East Africa

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Microsoft’s Windows Insiders Program is a global community of over 7 million people using technology to make a lasting impact on the world through meaningful relationships with people around the world. As part of Windows Insiders, we launched the #Insiders4Good Fellowship in Nigeria, which seeks to find leaders in local communities who are actively and creatively solving problems. We are very excited to expand the #Insiders4Good Fellowship to East Africa and are seeking East African entrepreneurs with projects in the early stage to apply to become part of our second cohort of #Insiders4Good Fellows.

To participate in the #Insiders4Good East Africa Fellowship, applicants must be:

  1. Registered members of the Windows Insider Program (sign up at: insider.windows.com);
  2. Legal residents of Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania or Uganda, aged 18 and over;
  3. Have an idea, or a business, for a product or service in the early stage that will improve the lives of East African people;
  4. The product or service cannot have been selected as a winner in any contest or sweepstakes.

Twenty-five entrepreneurs will be selected and will receive:

  1. A premier suite of Windows hardware and software, and
  2. A 6-month mentorship program that will be kicked off by a special one-week learning event for Fellows and mentors. The 6-month mentorship will include tailored technical and strategic mentorship from local and international leaders to help raise the Fellows’ unique idea to the next level.

Application Deadline is March 31st.

To learn more and apply for this exciting opportunity, please check here.

Post and photo credits: Microsoft Winsiders Website