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  • Three South African startups chosen for Seedcamp week

    South African web startups, Cognician, GetAGreatBoss and iSigned are packing their bags for London. Seedcamp, the European micro-seed fund that focuses on early stage startups has announced the selection of three South African technology startups to attend ‘Seedcamp Week’ in London from the 13th till the 17th of September. This is great news for South Africa, having secured three of the 23 available places at Seedcamp week, from the more than 600 teams worldwide that have applied over the year. The Seedcamp finalists 2010 include a wide selection of teams from 16 different countries, active in more than 19 cities. The South...

  • Company Office

    IAB SA Bookmark Awards keeps pace with the ever-changing digital industry

    With only 10 days to go until the deadline for submissions to the IAB Bookmark Awards, digital marketers have one last chance to get their entries in and face off against the best in the industry. The awards continue to rise in prestige and have become the Academy Awards of the local industry – with one very particular difference. While so many other awards feature the same categories and subcategories every year, the Bookmarks have undergone an exciting revamp to reflect the dynamic nature of the digital space. The Bookmarks has, in a mere eight years of existence, established itself...

  • Kenyan startup proposes solution to modern-era information overload

    In an age of information abundance, curating meaning is key. Nine months ago that is just what Jon Gosier set out to do as he took over the reins of the SwiftRiver initiative at renown crowd-sourcing activism site, Ushahidi. Recently he announced the Beta release, and unveiled a new website at Swiftly.org. What is SwiftRiver? SwiftRiver Open Beta Announcement. from Ushahidi on Vimeo. “SwiftRiver is an open source intelligence gathering platform for managing realtime streams of data.” Using five different tools in the toolbox, you can create a host of useful applications. Tools ranging from natural language processing to handling duplicates,...

  • Cred and the art of micropayments

    The topic of micropayments has struck a heated note amongst online paywall experts and content providers. There are many who denounce the system, marking it as a tried-and-failed experiment, while others proclaim it as the future of online transactions. A micropayment can be defined as a financial transaction of a small sum of money, usually in an online context. PayPal defines this sum at US$12.00 or less, in terms of its own micropayment system. For the average end-user, micropayments are extremely useful. For a minor fee, the user can gain access to their desired content, albeit only in bite-sized...

  • Blekko search: Coming soon to a browser near you

    Blekko CEO Rich Skrenta has conceded the search battle to Google without even firing a shot. Instead, he’s adopted the mantra of his co-founder Mike Markson: own a category or die. The challenge for Blekko is that the company must figure out exactly which category it plans to own; then work to define it. At present, the most accurate term for what Blekko does is vertical search, which has been a highly elusive category for large-scale, consumer-level entrants. Vertical search targets specific types of content, whether by format, topic or genre. ...

  • Do banks block mobile money innovation in Africa?

    A recent blog posting by Dr. Bill Maurer on the CGAP website spoke about mobile money’s innovation crisis. The author claims that nothing new has happened in mobile money since Mpesa was launched in Kenya, with the possible exception of the launch of Mkesho this year in Kenya as well. Besides that development, he contends that everyone around the world is just trying to duplicate what Safaricom is doing in this space. Why is this the case? Dr Maurer argues that, “There may also be one partnership in particular that could be hampering innovation—that with the banks. Historically, these two players have taken very...

  • 7 reasons to bootstrap: Angels, VCs or none of the above?

    The venture capitalist (VC) community is disdainful of angel investors and their puny funds, but the angels can do deals that VCs cannot because they are too small for the large funds. Today's entrepreneur has a choice: Angels or VCs or none of the above. It's worth considering the "none of the above" option because startup costs are very low. Joe Kraus, co-founder of Excite, which was the Google of its day, told me that they needed $5-million for a data centre when they first started. Today, with the ready availability of cloud computing you don't need to raise lots of capital...

  • DukaPress: A WordPress eCommerce system from Africa

    DukaPress is a new customised WordPress eCommerce platform. It allows you to easily set up a fully featured online shop which can be used to sell digital or physical goods to customers all over the world. I’ve been using WordPress for many years, and am a huge fan. When I saw DukaPress last week, I was impressed to see that it was built in Nairobi, but I also wondered why another eCommerce WordPress build was needed, as there are already good ones available such as WP-ecommerce and Shopp. I interviewed Kelvin Jayanoris, from Nickel Pro, about DukaPress: ON WHY THEY DEVELOPED A...

  • Samasource CEO on bridging the digital divide and creating a global meritocracy

    While aid programs in developing countries are ubiquitous, precious few empower the people they’re trying to help on a sustainable, ongoing basis. One that bucks this trend is Samasource, a non-profit based in San Francisco that distributes digital work from large US multinationals in manageable chunks to poor but educated workers in developing countries such as Kenya, Uganda, India, Pakistan and Haiti. Samasource workers do basic digital work required by US companies that American workers wouldn’t necessarily be willing to do. For example, Google Maps has local business information that changes when a company moves, expands or shut down....

  • Kenya’s mobile money innovation boom

    Kenya is quickly gaining a competitive advantage in the mobile payments space. Led by mobile operator giant Safaricom with their Mpesa product, the market locally sees huge value in mobile money transactions. Add to that a regulatory system that is relaxed enough for innovation to be encouraged, and you have a great space for interesting things to happen. Pay.Zunguka The team at Symbiotic always have more than one iron in the fire. I was surprised by their most recent release of a new product called Pay.Zunguka recently. Simply put, it’s a payment gateway and aggregator, allowing merchants, developers and content providers a...

  • 20 Kenyan web and tech innovations worth watching

    Kenya is abuzz right now. The outlook for technology and innovation in Africa has never been brighter, and Kenya is positioning itself strategically in anticipation of a wave of groundbreaking web and mobile emerging market products and services. The resources being put into the Kenyan IT sector currently demonstrate how seriously the country is taking the challenge to become Africa’s Innovation hub. The Kenyan Government, through its ICT Board,  recently closed the window for proposals for its $4-million grant towards local content and software applications using mobile and/or the web. This was a concerted effort by the government to meet its mandate to make...