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Ushahidi’s BRCK raises $1.2M to connect the 4-billion in emerging markets
Good news for BRCK after a very successful Kickstarter campaign is that Ushahidi has announced a new round of funding to the tune of US$1.2 million. BRCK is hoping to solve the problem of internet connectivity issues in remote areas.
The Nairobi-based technology startup made waves when the product was first announced. According to the team, the gadget could be described as mobile router, and works as a backup generator for the internet.
This round of funding was led by Invested Development, an early stage impact investor, but also included Omvestments, Urban.us, Cheryl Heller and Gary Scheft of CommonWise LLC, Synergy Growth, and other investors. According to the investor consortium, they were “attracted to this opportunity because of the cross-sector impact it will have in Africa and beyond”.
Internet connectivity is major problem in Africa and most parts of the developing world. According data from the World Bank for every 10% increase in broadband penetration there can be as much as 1.4% GDP growth. Currently, only 24% of people in the developing world are connected to the internet and even then, the connection is often unreliable. BRCK’s mission is to put an end to that.
According to BRCK’s Erik Hersman, “BRCK is internet connectivity for the world we live in” and this new round of funding just makes its reality all the more possible.
“With 4-billion people waiting to get online in the emerging markets, this investment means we can be a major player in the space,” he says.
The device it is versatile and works in the same way a mobile device does. It is supposedly able to connect to the internet intelligently and seamlessly, hopping between Ethernet, Wifi, and any available 3G or 4G mobile phone network. The team seems to have made power redundant. Though the device draws power through an AC power source, if that fails, the BRCK can last for 8 hours on battery life and transitions seamlessly
More than just a router, the BRCK is designed to allow users to access the internet in Africa and overcome some of the challenges that are unique to the continent.
“Building a hardware company in Africa will have tremendous impact for the region if successful… well beyond the very useful product being developed.” says Invested Development’s Founder and Managing Director, Miguel Granier. “The potential impact and scale of this company made it an easy investment decision. BRCK uses technology to solve problems where there is a significant market gap.”
BRCK currently has 11 employees and is independent of Ushahidi.