17 of our favourite tech startups recognised by Cape Town #WDC2014


Follow the #WDC2014 hashtag, or if you’re not technically inclined, just look out for the massive yellow circles dotted all over South Africa’s Mother City and you’ll notice the exciting initiatives supported by the Cape Town World Capital of Design 2014 vision. In an attempt to promote design, culture and innovation, the City of Cape Town has recognised hundreds of outstanding projects, startups and events in and around the city.

Living up to this year’s prestigious World Capital of Design award, we’ve seen the Cape Town promote and support some well-known local startups such as Paperight, Dream Mobile, Mellowcabs, Zapacab, GoMetro and Project Isizwe. The list is incredibly big so we’ve narrowed it down to our favourites.

First off, this online platform reflects the artsy side of what Cape Town is so well known for. Dirty Collective is an ecommerce store with the vision of providing local clothing brands, artists and designers with a platform allowing them to gain exposure across South Africa and throughout the world, while making the brands and products also readily available for purchase online.

There seem to be a lot of mapping projects featured in WDC2014, with most of them pinpointing a group of areas in need of exposure. For instance, Cape Town Cycle Map aims to promote cycling in the region by highlighting popular, recommended routes and has developed a smartphone app. Connected Space shows you free Wi-Fi hotspots across South Africa, while AidBrella maps some of the local NGOs in the greater Cape Town area, leading up a networking seminar.

Ever wanted to have your own storefront in the cloud? Shopstar enables anyone to create and manage an online shop with little technical expertise. Developed in Cape Town by a team of industry professionals, it′s a home-grown solution for South Africa′s entrepreneurs.

Aweza is crowdsourced language translator app. With South Africa having 11 official languages and a reputation for hiring poor translators at public events, this initiative hopes to provide a solution. It describes itself as being a multi-lingual phrase and vocabulary translation service, with the primary aim to effectively break down language barriers in South Africa and encourage cross-cultural engagement through leveraging the fast-growing influence of mobile technology.

Doc2doc is aimed at improving communication between doctors and patients. It’s a smartphone platform meant for medical referrals between doctors in different hospitals, cities and countries. The platform allows not only complete and concise medical communication, but also permits databasing of patient information, case-load analysis and research possibilities.

Creative Code by Ikamva Youth will explore a range of tools and strategies for introducing young people to web-making and digital storytelling within a mobile-centric ecology. Dr. Marion Walton of the initiative explains that the aim is to develop strategies for using feature phones and low end smartphones as key tools for coding and web authoring. This will help develop an understanding of the social practices influencing both young people’s local peer-to-peer media sharing as well as web publishing to broader audiences.

There are various interesting urban farming and agriculture projects being promoted but the tech startup that caught our attention is meant to provide South African farmers with expert, legitimate information. AgriSuite Mobile is a mobile app that provides a complete range of agricultural information for the farmer.

Here’s one really innovative sci-fi initiative. To tackle the issue of global warming, Agora Projects builds solar-powered, Wi-Fi-enabled pavilions that provide off-grid solutions for communities to connect, educate, empower and restore. How awesome is that? Take a look:

Kaya Labs is aimed at bridging the digital divide by creating physical spaces in townships and rural areas, giving communities access information. It’s described as being an organisation that uses technology to provide education to the public by partnering with other organisations. Its mission is to empower people with education.

Ventureburn has reported on bookly before. The e-reading app for instant messaging service Mxit is developed by Native VML and gives people access to more than 450 free books. It has won numerous awards including Most Innovative App at the MTN App of the Year Awards, and the Best Start-up award at the annual FutureBook Innovation Awards in London.

In collaboration with the popular tech company, WooThemes, GivenGain plans to create the first African WordPress plugin for online activism, providing anyone with online tools to raise funds and take action for the causes they believe in.

In an attempt to bring us the best of what Long Street’s traditional merchants have to offer, Merchants on Long is a curated African concept store and an international platform for designers to sell on and get support for brand, logos and packaging.

Openinspiration is a platform that aims to empower the consumer to submit ideas and positively influence products and brands. The initiative wants to open up a dialogue between consumer and brand and gives rise to action and future change in order to support sustainability and responsibility of a brand and product.

MzansiStore describes itself as an e-Marketplace that can help small-scale handcraft producers build sustainable businesses. This is done by designing an ecommerce platform where local merchants can promote, sell and ship their products directly to buyers.

Of all the many solar, eco-friendly initiatives this one stands out the most. Khaya Power is a pay-as-you-go solar power provider. The startup provides much-needed solar energy, which customers can buy at mobile power stations. Once the power is depleted they replace it with a recharged power pack.

There are many more startups, projects and events that we didn’t mention, but let us know which ones are your favorite.

Jacques Coetzee: Staff Reporter


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