Category Archives: Innovation and Entrepreneurship

the story of Glory, Luck and being thankful for what you have from Arusha

Shepherds Primary School, Arusha, Tanzania

She wrote: “Dear Teachers: I am so lucky.”

Glory’s Story,

This story is about a little 10yr old girl in Tanzania called Glory, a wonderful lady called Stacey ….  and how their little story should matter to all of us.

Glory, is a bright young girl who attends Shepherd Primary school in Tanzania.  One fine morning Glory decided she could no longer go to school when she realized that her only pair of shoes had a sole missing. While this might seem like a non-issue for most, Glory like many of her peers at Shepherds primary, lives in meager circumstances with her sister, aunt and grandmother given both her parents had passed away.

So how does Luck have a part to play in this story? Shepherd Primary school is a very lucky school. In 2003, Mama Lucy collected her savings selling chickens, and decided to rent a plot of land adjacent to her home to start a primary school. As Luck would have it, a local developer bought the land in 2007 and forced her to close down. Luckily Stacey, who had visited Shepherds Primary as a volunteer that year decided that she had to quit her job in the U.S and help Mamy Lucy rebuild. Since that day, with the help of the teachers, parents and several generous donors, Stacey and Mama Lucy have been able to rebuild the school, purchase a refurbished school bus and double the number of student to over 300. As a matter of fact, in November 2008, Shepherds Junior participated in national exams for the first time. The school ranked #1 out of 117 participating schools in the Arusha district. The kids beamed with pride and so did Stacey.

Oh and what happened to the little girl Glory? That evening after school Glory’s teacher Rachel went over to her house to further investigate — and on finding out the issue, she went door to door in the village looking for a pair of shoes for Glory to borrow for the day. The next morning, teacher Rachel returned with Glory to school … and by the end of the week Mama Lucy had bought Glory a shiny new pair of her own. That week, Stacey received thank you notes from the kids, including Glory’s that seemed a little different — She wrote: “Dear Teachers: I am so lucky.”

That’s where we all come in. What if the Luckiest people aren’t the people with the most money, the most comfort or determined by where in the world they live? What if luck had little to do with all this — what if it Luck had everything do with what you share? Stacey, Glory and Mama Lucy share a little of their Luck every day with everyone they meet. Let’s help Mama Lucy, Glory and Stacey’s organization Epic Change spread the *Luck* by joining their TweetLuck campaign …

Epic Change has created a wonderful campaign to celebrate South By Southwest and St. Patrick’s Day called TweetLuck.  Be sure to @tweetluck or Epic Change founder @staceymonk on Twitter.


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PediaPress | Print Your Favorite Wikipedia Articles As Books

Techcruch carried an interesting note on how you can create a book by importing wikipedia pages. What is great is that you can create a book on any topic, sort information by chapters and PediaPress takes care of typesetting, printing and shipping. PediaPress allows you to download the PDF or OpenDocument format free of charge.

This harps back a conversation on Jon’s Appfrica blog about how we must think beyond just the net to truly democratize information. We have to think of new ways to get it into the hands of people who need it most. Perhaps PediaPress is an step in this direction.

Did you know that you can assemble your own wiki pages from Wikipedia and print them out in book form? You can, for a while now, thanks to a partnership between Wikimedia Foundation and a German startup called PediaPress.

Last week, the wiki-to-print feature was activated for six more languages besides German but as of yesterday the functionality is also being tested on the regular English Wikipedia (restricted to logged-on users only for now).

You can check it out here .

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can discarded phone booths be used to kickstart micropayments?

Andrewhydeheadshot_normalandrewhyde: rt @dllavoy just occurred to me. could payphones be considered the first micropayment model? about 2 hours ago · Reply · View Tweet

Andrew Hyde of TechStars retweeted  a simple thought by Deb Louison Lavoy on why pay phones could not be used for micropayments. I thought I’d share this on my blog for your thoughts.

This reminds me of an equally interesting project called Question box that converts discarded phone booths in rural villages into a knowledge re-sources.

The idea was simple:

Users place a free call by pushing the green button. They connect to an operator sitting in front of an Internet-enabled computer. Users ask the operator questions. The operator goes online and finds their answers, translating them into the local language.

Question Box brings relevant information to people who cannot access the Internet directly. It overcomes barriers of illiteracy, language and limited penetration in rural India and Africa. Villagers have access to immediate, relevant information using the most simple mode of communication:  voice.

While this is great, Question Box’s successful pilots coupled with Deb’s post brings up an interesting question. Can these same discarded phone booths also serve the purpose of collecting micro payments? – Phone booths already have the ability to collect money and transmit data over phone lines.

With little modification, phone booths could serve to kick start micro payments in rural Africa for those still be disconnected to the banking and communication grid.

These are my $0.02 ; your thoughts welcome ..

tag: afrigadget, appfrica, jobsworth

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Dial 1298 for a World-Class Ambulance Service in Mumbai

How do you provide a city like Mumbai and its 22 million residents an efficient Ambulance service? The Acumen Fund’s Sasha Dicheter, talks about their latest investment, “Dial 1298” service with its 51 ambulances, each fitted with intensive care service combining world-class operational skills with a social mission.

Patients who want to go to a private hospital in a full-service ambulance – staffed with a doctor – pay 1,500 rupees (about US$35). Those who go to public hospitals pay either half price or nothing. 1298’s leadership is committed to having 15-20% of the company’s calls be serviced free or at reduced cost. This simple logic takes away the cumbersome process of identifying who can afford to pay and who cannot.

As such, anyone in Mumbai who needs ambulance service can dial 1298 and, thanks to the magic of GPS and Google Maps, one of 51 world-class ambulances arrives in about 15 minutes to provide care and transport. The service is world-class, modeled on London Ambulance Service


The British Medical Journal estimates that for every 5 minutes saved in ambulance response time, the survival rate doubles for cardiac arrests. Consider that before 1298, Mumbai had just 12 ambulances – with 9 out of 10 trips made to transport the dead.

Currently the model is being replicated in 2 other Indian cities – It’s time someone took the initiative and replicated the model in Lagos, Accra or Capetown that have a huge population density and a mix of private and public health care.

Update: The Acumen fund did a wonderful follow up story on Meridain Medical.  Nairobi-based Meridian Medical Centre has been profitably operating three outpatient clinics with one-third of its clients earning only $4 a day. They will open 5 more clinics over the next 3 years in higher density, lower income areas. Meridian is part of a larger trend of companies recognizing the market potential of the BoP.

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Introducing the latest addition to Guy Kawasaki‘s news aggregation service . Alltop is a popular news and blog aggregator for various topics around the web.

With the addition of Africa.Alltop Guy has given African technophiles a well deserved show of support and highlighted a continent in much need of some positive PR – see Afromusings article on the Meme’s. Markets and Africa.

I have had the good fortune of working closely with a number of bloggers featured on Alltop’s Africa page and can confidently say that these men and women are positively changing the perception of Africa. They belong to an ever growing breed of confident Africans that believe strongly in the need for dialogue, self-reliance and positive change.

Thanks to Guy Kawasaki, Ellen Leanse, Erik Hersman (see Erik’s blog for the back story on Africa.Alltop) and all those people working behind the scenes to bring this vision to fruition.

Be sure to join the conversation on Africa and watch Alltop.Africa.

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Venturebeat: On how Google is using its community to Map the unmarked world

Google is getting increasingly good at getting its community to do its work for them with Google Maps. Google is reaching out to some of the developing parts of the world which it doesn’t have the best data for yet and hopes locals (or those that know the area well) will fill in what is missing with its’ Google Map Maker.

The tool currently can only use it to fill in data for the following countries: Cyprus, Iceland, Pakistan, Vietnam as well as the Caribbean nations of: Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Jamaica, Netherlands Antilles, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago.

In these area you can add roads, points of interest and regions. This data will then be relayed back to Google so it can place it on the actual Google Maps product.

There’s a pretty nifty before-and-after picture (below) to show you just how powerful such a tool can be in the hands of the community. Google basically had no data for Myanmar prior to the deadly cyclone hitting the area. With the help of the community and some engineers, now it has all the data you see below.

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Event Summary: Africa as the New Asia?

Today on June 22 from 11am – 1pm a good number of Africa minded individuals from different professional backgrounds met to offer their thoughts on technology and Africa at the beautiful Stanford Golf Course.

The event was sponsored by the SF Bay Area IPN and was titled, “Africa: The Next Asia?”  It was kicked off by a panel discussion featuring Aleem Walji from Google‘s Africa Initiatives, Leila Chirayath – founder of Samasource, Arathi Ravichandran of Vipani , and Joseph Nganga, an expert in energy innovation and Board member of Carolina for Kibera . Topics explored were Africa’s steps in development; opportunities and obstacles to sustainable prosperity; to what extent should Africa mirror what we see in Asia?; and what are the challenges and/or potential benefits of following this road?

The Panel was kindly moderated by Ellen Leanse, who is a Bay Area Business Strategist, and Author. She works with early-stage and established companies to accelerate business growth through innovative business, marketing, and product strategies. Ellen also actively supports education and micro-finance organizations in East Africa, and she is currently writing a book based on recent experiences in Kenya.

Here were some excellent notes via twitter for the event from @tylerwillis captured via summize :

Realtime results for #ipn:africa

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Filed under Democracy, Governance and Activism, Healthcare and Education, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Telecommunication and Infrastructure, Trade and Development

Event Alert: Barcamp Nairobi ’08 – June 21

Kenya is on the edge of becoming an emerging economy tech hub and is central to African innovation. This can be seen in the increasingly vibrant startup scene and an interest by early tech adopters to experiment in this market. Recently Kenya made encouraging strides in the mobile space and as a sign that the change is here to stay, ten months after opening its regional office in Nairobi, Google launched an online map for Kenya, signaling an improvement in local content generation and innovation.

To strengthen this community, technical professionals, Internet enthusiasts, bloggers, designers and other clever people are coming together at the Jacaranda Hotel, from 10am-5pm for Barcamp Nairobi ‘08 event.

What is a Barcamp?

BarCamp is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos and interaction from participants.”

In the spirit of BarCamps worldwide, the event is free and attendees are encouraged to present and participate in the adhoc setting. There are no pre-planned schedule of events, or speakers and the agenda evolves as the day progresses.

You have to be signed up on the Barcamp wiki page but also be sure to check out their Facebook event page.


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Engineering the end of hunger with Jock Brandis

“It makes their work less tedious and increases productivity up to 50 times,” says Brandis. “One machine will work for an entire village, so when we’re talking about 100 machines, we’re not talking about 100 families — we’re talking about 100 villages.”

– Jock Brandis, Full Belly Project

Jock Brandis is the inventor of the Sustainable Peanut Sheller. Jock was on a trip to Mali to fix a small village’s water treatment system where he witnessed the women’s bleeding hands from shelling peanuts all day. He made a mental note and set out to search for a sustainable peanut sheller that would not only mechanize this process but improve the efficiency of the women. Coffee and peanuts out of the husk are 6 times more valuable than in the husk making a significant difference in the revenues the farmers can earn. Brandis’ simple machine can be build by local craftsmen for $28 of locally available material. Brandis refuses to patent the machine and calls it his gift to the world.

CNN did a great portrait on Jock and is available here @ CNN Heroes: Peanut farmers get a big hand from simple device

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Google East African Gadget Competition

Title: ‘Compete to build a Gadget’

Registration Date: Registration opens February 25th; the deadline is March 17th.

Who is it open to: This competition is open to university students across Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda,Rwanda, Burundi, and Ethiopia.


Participating students will have approximately four months to design and build functioning Google Gadgets either solo or in teams of two.

The competition will provide an opportunity for students to apply theoretical knowledge in a practical, hands-on way, and that a number of the resulting Gadgets will feature regionally-useful content.

Further Details at:

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