Start-ups were given a chance to showcase their brands at the appwiz demo. The finals were held this week and the judges had the opportunity to go through the 11 shortlisted finalists. Last week, Strathmore Business School hosted a successful Appwiz Demo. The start-ups pitched their solutions to a panel of judges – including Ushahidi and BRCK Co-Founder Juliana Rotich and Dr. Joseph Sevilla, Director @iLab Africa – today at the final judging session.
The winners and runners-up in the accelerator programme will be selected ahead of the official awards ceremony on December 1st.
For the last three months, the start-ups have been undergoing a rigorous training programme designed to build their ideas from concept/prototype stage to viable, ready-for-market products with the capacity to grow the young enterprises. During the incubation period, team members from each start-up were coached and mentored by industry experts and successful entrepreneurs that included Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Associate Professor, University of Nairobi. Among the solutions exhibited this year include: a mobile solution targeting informal sector workers with the aim of linking them to customers in need of their services, a stock simulation game that teaches users how to trade in the Nairobi Securities Exchange and a news and media entertainment solution.
“Through the Safaricom Appwiz Challenge we aim to build successful start-ups by helping the participants develop commercially viable solutions and ensuring that they identify the right target markets. I am glad that we are now seeing more mobile-based solutions rather than a pure focus on apps, with each of the solutions presented by finalist teams showing great potential for success,” said Joseph Ogutu, Director of Strategy and Innovation at Safaricom.
This year, the judges reviewed the sustainability model of the start-ups as well as their potential to scale up their businesses. Other than the technology aspect, the start-ups were also expected to demonstrate their business know-how and long term growth plans.
“We are glad to see that this year’s participants have been able to identify unique challenges and needs in the ecosystem based on their own experiences and customer engagement, and are using this knowledge to develop solutions that not only address these needs, but that also have the potential to grow into sustainable businesses,” said Frank Tamre, Co-Founder of Moringa School and one of the coaches for this year’s Appwiz Challenge
Since its launch in 2013 the Safaricom Appwiz Challenge has helped introduce close to 30 startup companies into the Kenyan market. The main aim of the Challenge is to support local mobile technology-based start-ups, offering mentorship, networking and business skills that would enable young entrepreneurs grow their businesses while at the same time addressing the issue of youth unemployment in Kenya. This year’s winners will be announced in early December, where the top start-up will receive Kshs.1.5 million in form of a grant, while the 1st Runner-up and 2nd Runner-up will receive Kshs.1 million and Kshs.500, 000 respectively.