Back in November 2018, the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator programme revealed its third Innovation Fund start-up cohort consisting of 11 start-ups from across Asia Pacific and Africa. These start-ups recently crossed the six-month mark with the Ecosystem Accelerator programme and so we decided to reflect on their recent developments and overall progress.
AgroCenta, Ghana – Agriculture (in partnership with Vodafone and MTN)
AgroCenta is an online platform that connects smallholder farmers in the staple food value chains to a broader online marketplace. Farmers can access truck delivery services and access real-time market information on their mobile phones via SMS and voice services. Building on this platform, AgroCenta aims to allow farmers to receive digital payments as well as develop their credit score and access financial services through the AgroPay service.
As of June 2019, Agrocenta had trained and provided its service to around 2,000 smallholder farmers in the Northern and Upper East Region of Ghana, enabling them to receive digital payments via mobile money.
The agritech start-up partnered with Pan African Savings & Loans (a subsidiary of Ecobank Group) earlier this year to rollout input financing to 1,000 smallholder farmers in September 2019. Additionally, AgroCenta locked in a partnership with Metropolitan Pensions to administer pension premiums on behalf of smallholder farmers.
Coliba, Côte d’Ivoire – Recycling (in partnership with MTN)
Coliba is a web, mobile and SMS platform that connects households and businesses with Coliba-affiliated, trained and equipped plastic waste pickers. In exchange for plastic waste, users receive points that can be converted into mobile airtime. Plastic waste is converted into pellets in Coliba’s local factory then sold to plastic-based industries. As of June 2019, Coliba had over 4,500 monthly active users on its mobile platform.
In May 2019, Coliba signed a contract with Emeraude International to strengthen Coliba’s outreach activities in schools. This contract is planned to be extended to two more countries in the sub-region from 2020.
Eneza Education, Côte d’Ivoire – Education (in partnership with MTN and Orange)
Eneza Education offers an educational content subscription service to children in primary and secondary schools in Kenya, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. The start-up’s content is developed in-house and aligned with Côte d’Ivoire’s national curriculum. Now, students can access lessons and assessments on any mobile phone via SMS or USSD with a daily, weekly or monthly subscription. Eneza Education’s operation in Côte d’Ivoire has reached over 8,000 users as of June 2019.
In the first six months of their Ecosystem Accelerator grant, Eneza signed a partnership with MTN Côte d’Ivoire. The edtech start-up also set up a new child policy to ensure a safe and child-friendly environment for its projects and activities in Côte d’Ivoire. Additionally, Eneza launched SOS Eduk (Ask A Teacher), which allows students to connect with experts like social assistants, school and career advisers, of whom they can ask questions via SMS. Finally, the edtech start-up launched an iEduk free month trial with 5,000 students, with the support of the Ministry of Education, raising awareness of the iEduk.
GiftedMom, Cameroon – Healthcare (in partnership with Orange)
GiftedMom aims to increase access to maternal healthcare in Africa by providing pregnant women and mothers with mobile health information, connecting them to specialists and reminding them of their hospital appointments. GiftedMom delivers its services across multiple platforms, including USSD, SMS, chatbots and an assistant app. As of June 2019, the start-up had supported over 200,000 pregnant women and nursing mothers through SMS and mobile app platforms. Earlier this year, the start-up launched a new service that enables mothers to book instant appointments with top gynaecologists, reducing wait time from five hours to a few minutes.
Greenovator, Myanmar – Agriculture (in partnership with Telenor)
Greenovator’s platform provides farmers with information and advice on how to improve operations and increase yields. The solution also allows traders to identify where to source their produce promptly and provides a means for vendors to project demand for agricultural inputs. In line with its Ecosystem Accelerator project, Greenovator aims to reduce costs and increase farmers’ incomes. Since the beginning of the year and as of June 2019, the agriculture start-up had on-boarded 39,628 farmers, bringing its total user base to just over 150,000.
Earlier this year, the start-up successfully launched an in-app payment solution which allows farmers to pay for Greenovator’s mobile services through Telenor’s mobile money platform Wave Money.
Kea Medicals, Benin – Healthcare (in partnership with MTN)
Kea Medicals runs a hospital information system (HIS) that provides patients with a medical identity (including historical medical records) through a QR code-equipped tag/bracelet. The platform aims to interconnect African hospitals through a single database to manage patients’ medical information and to increase access to healthcare and health micro-insurance. Kea Medicals had reached 1,000 monthly active users in June 2019. Earlier this year, Forbes Africa ranked Kea Medicals co-founder Dr. Vèna Arielle Ahouansou in its 2019 30 under 30, Technology Category.
oDoc, Sri Lanka – Healthcare (in partnership with Mobitel)
oDoc is a service connecting doctors with patients virtually using mobile technology (smartphone app, mobile data, SMS, voice and video) to provide high-quality primary healthcare at affordable prices. While the telemedicine solution serves all segments of the population, it was designed specifically for low-income users. In the first six months of our project with oDoc, 29,000 users have been on-boarded on the platform, 14,000 of which are women users.
Since the announcement of the Ecosystem Accelerator grant, oDoc has further expanded to Southeast Asia with the launch of its India operation. In India, oDoc has already on-boarded a B2B client providing access to 6,000 factory workers who now all have access to oDoc’s online medical consultations.
Pacific Ads Group, Papua New Guinea – Jobs
Pacific Ads Group offers online classifieds across the Pacific region, mainly for properties and cars. Users of such platforms often report difficulties finding local professionals to help with home projects or maintenance so Pacific Ads Group decided to launch a new digital service to match local professionals with potential local customers.
In the last six months, Pacific Ads Group launched its platform across four regions, working closely with users to address their concerns. The platform, which is expected to allow service providers to better market themselves as trusted businesses, will eventually allow users to gain access to financial services.
Qlue, Indonesia – Civictech (in partnership with Telkomsel)
Qlue’s mobile-enabled platform offers two-way communication for city residents and governments. Residents can request government services. City governments can respond and provide updates on the status of those requests. The collected data is compiled into actionable reports for city leaders to manage and allocate resources. These reports are also available to the media and the public, improving transparency.
To date, Qlue has successfully on-boarded three city governments. These cities are currently undergoing Qlue’s deployment phase which will yield socio-economic and environmental benefits later in the year. In February, Qlue secured an undisclosed amount of funding from MDI Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Telkom Indonesia. The start-up has also further deepened its partnership with Telkomsel’s business units to expand its smart city solution across Indonesia.
SkyEye, Samoa – Transportation
SkyEye develops services that harness mobile and geospatial technology solutions to solve logistical challenges in Pacific Island countries. In June 2019, SkyEye was selected as one of the ten winning companies chosen for the UNESCAP’s Women MSME Fintech Innovation Fund, a fund that provides risk capital and technical assistance to pilot technology-enabled financial service solutions for women-led enterprises. In July 2019, the start-up launched its mobile platform where taxis and delivery drivers can receive orders in real time.
Taskmoby, Ethiopia – Jobs
Taskmoby runs a mobile platform that connects informally skilled workers to target customers. The platform creates a level playing field where service providers and informal workers are selected for local jobs and tasks based on merit. Verified service providers on the platform can earn stable incomes by connecting to users looking for their services.
The Addis-based start-up had already registered almost 4,000 users on its platform as of June 2019. It also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Ethiopia’s Jobs Creation Commission, aligning with the Commission’s strategy to reduce unemployment in Ethiopia.
To conclude this blog post, we would like to warmly thank the eleven start-ups of our third cohort for sharing their latest updates with our team.
The Ecosystem Accelerator programme is supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Australian Government, the GSMA and its members.