Mozilla Africa Mradi Innovation Challenge: Empowering African Tech Innovators

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Mozilla Corporation in partnership with the Nairobi City County Government (NCCG) launched the Mozilla Africa Mradi Innovation Challenge. The challenge is a unique initiative that aims to identify and support African tech entrepreneurs and students who are developing creative solutions for the continent’s needs.

The challenge was launched in Nairobi in May 2023 and culminated in an intensive pitching and selection process at the Arboretum Park in Nairobi. The event saw three tech start-ups and three student innovators emerge as winners, receiving grants totaling Ksh. 13 million and technical assistance from Mozilla to further develop their products and access the market.

Mozilla Africa Mradi Innovation Challenge is a program designed by Mozilla Corporation in collaboration with NCCG to promote innovation led by and grounded in the unique needs of users on the African continent. The program seeks to identify tech entrepreneurs and students who can benefit from an acceleration program that will provide them with technical support, access to grants, and ultimately, market access for their products.

The challenge is part of Mozilla’s vision to make the Internet more open, accessible, and beneficial for everyone. Mozilla is a non-profit organization that has been supporting internet health and privacy since 2003. It has distributed over $20 million through fellowships and awards to support individual and collective actions that nurture unique innovations that benefit communities

The challenge is also aligned with NCCG’s efforts to foster a conducive environment for tech start-ups and innovators in Nairobi, which is a regional leader in access to digital infrastructure. According to the Digital Economy Blueprint, it is estimated that 55% of jobs in Kenya will rely on digital skills by 20302. NCCG has been working with various partners to establish incubation hubs, support investor readiness, and organize tech events such as the Innovate Nairobi Tech Week 2023.

The winners of the Mozilla Africa Mradi Innovation Challenge were selected from hundreds of applicants who submitted their innovative solutions for various sectors such as education, health, finance, agriculture, and entertainment. The winners were chosen based on their originality, feasibility, scalability, impact, and alignment with Mozilla’s values.

The three tech start-ups that won the challenge are:

  • Getpayd: A fintech start-up that enables small businesses to accept digital payments from their customers using QR codes.
  • Deaf Elimu: An edtech start-up that provides online learning resources for deaf students using sign language videos and interactive quizzes.
  • Hali Halisi: A healthtech start-up that uses artificial intelligence to diagnose skin diseases using smartphone cameras.

The three student innovators that won the challenge are:

  • Classify Me: A web app that uses machine learning to classify waste materials and provide recycling tips.
  • Audred: A wearable device that uses bone conduction technology to help people with hearing impairments enjoy music.
  • Mama Pesa: A mobile app that helps women entrepreneurs manage their finances and access loans.

The winners have received grants ranging from Ksh. 1 million to Ksh. 3 million each, depending on their stage of development. They will also get technical assistance from Mozilla experts to improve their products and prepare them for market launch. Additionally, they will get exposure and networking opportunities with other stakeholders in the tech ecosystem.

Mozilla Africa Mradi Innovation Challenge is not a one-off event, but a long-term program that aims to support tech innovation in Africa. Mozilla plans to expand the program to other African countries and sectors in the future, as well as create more opportunities for collaboration and learning among the innovators.

Mozilla also intends to showcase the products and stories of the winners on its platforms and social media channels, as well as connect them with potential partners, investors, and customers. Mozilla hopes that by supporting these innovators, it will inspire more Africans to use technology to solve their own problems and create positive change in their communities.

Mozilla Africa Mradi Innovation Challenge is a testament to Mozilla’s commitment to empowering people through technology. By partnering with NCCG, Mozilla is leveraging its global expertise and local insights to support tech innovators in Kenya who are developing solutions for African needs. The challenge is a win-win situation for both Mozilla and NCCG, as well as for the winners and the users who will benefit from their products.

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