Bozza: A mobile startup aimed at township mobihoods

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Bozza plans to add the phrase “mobihood” to our lexicon.

The new startup, funded by Hasso Plattner Ventures Africa (HP Ventures) is a mobile social networking service aimed at township users. Its primary focus is to give a voice to the Pan-African market.

HP Ventures is a €29-million (about US$40-million) venture capital fund based in South Africa. The intention of the fund, it claims, is to “invest in promising innovative technology companies, allowing local players to broaden their perspectives by entering a global arena”.

Bozza is a mobile application which enables communities to tell their stories “from the inside out”. The mobile startup says it will focus on “contextually relevant made-for-mobile content”. The service will be rooted in townships across Africa, allowing friends and communities to share content through local music, videos, photos, and myhood (m-commerce platform).

The people behind Bozza include well-known digital innovators, Emma Kaye and Catherine Lückhoff. Kaye, who is the CEO, is a recognised expert in the mobile entertainment industry.

The founders were unable to comment on the upcoming launch date of the product due to “timeline” sensitivities. They were, however, able to reveal that the beta app will possibly be available for download in November.

Speaking in a video on the company’s official Facebook page, Kaye says that Bozza “is a place to discover and share content, enabling small enterprises in a township environment to leverage the eCommerce platform for commercial use.

“I was very struck by the fact that there was no apparently local content for a very fast and emerging growing market using a mobile phone”

Kaye says that the Bozza team worked in two main areas, Khayelitsha and Alexandra, training groups on how to use mobile phones to create content. She says there is already a “very strong culture of storytelling in Africa”, and that the growth of the mobile phone now presents new opportunities to tell these stories.

“It is a platform which is co-created, handled by everyone from investors to filmmakers and we are launching the first beta in October. The national launch will be at the end of the year. In a nutshell, it is a content delivery platform, delivered to residence groups and then into townships.

Certain examples of our content will include a township cooking program. With programs like these, we are giving access to self-expression. Bozza can educate and allows people to access others outside of their small radius of trade. We want to empower local communities and those who depend on them for an income.”

Using a smartphone, users can shoot, edit and share their content with other members of the community. The project has already generated a huge buzz. Its proof of concept was based on two MXIT channels which featured local, made-for-mobile content. It gathered 40 000 views in three days and a further 170 000 users in three months. From these figures, funders approached the as “it it proved that there is a need for local content.”

Users will see if Bozza can live up to its description when it launches sometime in October, where it will hopefully join the ranks of other African success stories such as Motribe, which focuses on creating mobile communities — mainly in emerging market regions outside of Africa.

Follow Bozza on Twitter and Facebook for updates and information.

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