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A Close Look At the State of Social Innovation in East Africa

Grid Electric, M-pesa, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania,

African entrepreneurship and technological innovation have been on the rise in the recent past. East Africa has contributed a lot to the African tech development. For instance Kenyan M-Pesa, a mobile money platform has changed the narrative of mobile money, and Tanzanian Grid Electric is pushing African funding challenges with its recent raising of $55 million. Many startups are developing great solutions which are positively changing lives across six countries in East Africa. The startups are creating innovative solutions which have social impact and assist the advance interest of ecosystem. We decided to take a close look at interesting startups across the East African countries.

Tanzania

Tanzania’s government put up citizen portal referred to as Wananchi for receiving citizens’ complaints about the quality of services. But the government did not make good use of it before calling upon the country’s bloggers to get a license. Code for Tanzania that uses data to offer citizens hyper-personal and hyper-local data to make better-informed decisions about bread and butter issues is also carrying out an excellent job in the country.

Kenya

With the highest population in the region, the country is mostly affected by corruption challenges. Some of the obstacles have affected many initiatives like Mzalendo. Mzalendo is a civic startup that uses technology to keep a close check on the Kenyan parliament by offering information and data on government activities to push for public participation. You cannot talk about Kenyan innovation without touching on Ushahidi. Originally Ushahidi was developed for reporting crisis, but it is currently used for things like disaster reports and election monitoring. Code For Kenya is also doing an excellent job in the country. The platform aims at helping the government be more responsive to Kenyan citizens.

Rwanda

Tumenye is the youngest poster child for tech adoption in East Africa. Founded in 2015, Tumenye is the first civic tech startup in Rwanda. Moreover, it is the force behind the formation of Sobabukirwaa website that helps people access information that supports open governance, transparency, and accountability in Rwanda. Another startup that is doing important job is Impact Hub Kigali that supports social entrepreneurs and startups by rechanneling 51% of its profits into social startups.

Uganda

With the rise in the government spending and borrowing over the last decade, the county’s cost of servicing debt is expected to go high in the coming years. The trend could affect the ability of the government to fund infrastructure projects. Such is what influenced the formation of the likes of M-Omulimisia. The platform allows Ugandans report service delivery gaps like impassable roads, bridges that have been washed away, low-quality building construction at the school, absentee school teachers among others. M-Omulimisa was developed by Women Of Uganda Network a civic organization that has promoted and supported the innovative use of ICT among women. It promotes that as a local tool to share information and address local problems since 2000 collectively. Uganda is having the highest rate of unemployment in Africa. Outbox an innovation hub is working with government and other stakeholders to create capacity among youths in Uganda.

It is now clear that entrepreneurship and social innovation is still in the growth stage in the region in comparison to the rest of Africa. But it is encouraging to learn that there are people who are pushing it to the next level. Better partnerships, access to funding and improved regulatory scene, the innovators in East Africa are ready for the task.

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Written by Denis Opudo

Am an engineer who's a tech blogger, hit me up on dennis@techinafrica.com and we base our discussion on technology in Africa and the rest of the world.
Denis the Tech guru

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