Six tech innovators have emerged as winners of the inaugural Mozilla Africa Mradi Innovation Challenge, a programme that aims to support African tech entrepreneurs and students with grants and technical assistance.
The challenge, which was launched in May 2023 by global tech giant Mozilla Corporation in collaboration with Nairobi City County Government (NCCG), received over 200 applications from across the continent. The applicants were required to pitch their solutions for unique African needs in areas such as education, health, agriculture, e-commerce and fintech.
The final pitching and selection process took place at the Arboretum Park in Nairobi on Wednesday, where three tech start-ups and three student innovators were selected by a panel of judges from Mozilla, NCCG and the African Telecommunication Union (ATU).
The winning start-ups are:
- Getpayd: A platform that enables freelancers and gig workers to receive payments from anywhere in the world using mobile money.
- Deaf Elimu: A web-based platform that provides sign language interpretation and captioning services for online learning and meetings.
- Hali Halisi: A mobile app that connects farmers with buyers and provides real-time market information and quality assurance.
The winning student innovators are:
- Classify Me: A web app that uses artificial intelligence to classify waste and provide recycling tips.
- Audred: A wearable device that uses bone conduction technology to help people with hearing impairments enjoy music and audio content.
- Mama Pesa: A chatbot that provides financial literacy and savings advice for low-income women.
The winners will receive grants amounting to Ksh. 13 million and will get access to Mozilla’s network of mentors, experts and partners to further develop their products and position themselves in the market.
Speaking during the opening ceremony, H.E Sakaja A. Johnson, the Governor of Nairobi City County, noted that NCCG is working with Mozilla Africa Mradi to ensure that tech start-ups and innovators get access to grants and are enabled to access venture capital investments locally and globally.
He also highlighted some of the initiatives that NCCG has undertaken to support the tech ecosystem in Nairobi, such as The establishment of an incubation hub at the Eastlands Library in Maringo Hamza Ward in Makadara, supporting over 20 start-ups on investor readiness and coding for kids aged 7-13 years and the development of a start-up abstract and supporting Nairobi County’s inaugural Innovate Nairobi Tech Week 2023.
Mitchell Baker, the CEO and Chairwoman of Mozilla Corporation, said that Mozilla has distributed over $20 million through fellowships and awards to support individual and collective actions that nurture unique innovations that benefit communities since 2015.
She added that Mozilla Africa Mradi is designed to promote innovation led by and grounded in the unique needs of users on the African continent.
John Omo, the Secretary-General of the African Telecommunication Union (ATU), noted that advancing Africa’s digital economy is at the heart of ATU’s mandate. He said that ATU works to create harmonized digital economies through standardized policy and regulatory frameworks for the African region.
He also cited Kenya as a regional leader in access to digital infrastructure, with an estimated 55% of jobs relying on digital skills by 2030, according to Kenya’s Digital Economy Blueprint.
The Mozilla Africa Mradi Innovation Challenge is expected to run annually, with plans to expand to other African countries in the future.