On July 16th, 2013 Appfrica CEO Jon Gosier had the pleasure of sharing information about the history of Appfrica and business opportunities in Africa with summer fellows at Temple University’s Urban Apps + Maps Studio.

Appfrica Temple University Urban Apps + Maps

Slides from the presentation. Business opportunities across the continent…

On Appfrica and our role…

Join Appfrica/D8A and the OpenGov Hub on August 6th for a special Happy Hour to share the 30-minute THE CHEETAH CODE short and to announce D8A. The event will be held at 1889 F Street, Northwest, Washington, DC 20006 on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

The Cheetah Code chronicles young African entrepreneurs who are coming up with disruptive innovations and creating new business models in the technology sector that not employ themselves, but their peers, creating new ecosystems for trade that boost the continent’s productivity.

Cheetah Code: Inside DEMO Africa 2012 [Trailer] from Jon Gos on Vimeo.

The footage was taken at the first annual DEMO Africa 2012, a global trade show highlighting the most promising techpreneurs. Appfrica will also unveil its new parent company, D8A, a full service digital design firm that uses mostly African staff to serve its clients globally.

Please join us from 5-8pm on August 6th and enjoy beer, wine and snacks!

Click here to to RSVP for free!

Bahiyah Yasmeen Robinson

Bahiyah Yasmeen Robinson became involved in social entrepreneurship at a young age, partnering with a friend out of high school to run a fashion line that sourced and imported local fabrics from women’s cooperatives in Tanzania. She went on to explore the world of media and entertainment in order to obtain a well-rounded view of the media industry, eventually returning to her true passion: international affairs and social entrepreneurship.

I had the pleasure of attending the Partnering for Global Impact Conference in beautiful Lugano, Switzerland last week. Something special happened, and I’m not sure if it was because we were nestled between a pristine lake and majestic mountains (we know how environments can shape outcomes) or because of the willingness of the attendees to “approach things differently”.


So I’m combining my own personal experience with some step by step advice on how to get the most out of conferences going forward. From those of you who have a lot of experience attending conferences locally and globally, to those of you who may have limited access to these types of events, conferences, at some point, tend to get overwhelming.

Why? Because, if we’re ambitious and have taken the time out of our busy lives to attend a conference, we are always trying to find ways to get the most out of them to maximize our investment of time and capital. But sometimes (I would bet most of the time) we tire ourselves out trying to do too much in a short amount of time.

This last point was one that I learned by talking from everyone to CEOs of some of the world’s leading investment and development organizations to NGO directors that are mandated to start new initiatives on the continent. From the entrepreneur’s perspective, we’re looking for quality connections and investments. On the leadership side, they’re looking for groundbreaking thinking, new processes to add value to their work, and characteristics in entrepreneurs and companies that will drive their sector knowledge.

At PGI, leaders were transparent and willing to share their own challenges, which is a rare thing to witness an entrepreneur. I realized this while watching a panel of the world’s largest investment firms share their desire to integrate more case studies and allow for a more sensible margin of error and experimentation to learn best practices in emerging markets. As much as these leaders are knowledgeable and experienced, no matter how seasoned in a particular sector, most investors don’t have all of the answers (whether they admit it or not). Our humanity is connected.

Quality over Quantity

You don’t have to meet everyone in the room. You should, however, identify 3-5 new companies that either work in your field of expertise or are looking to enter into the region or sector you’re working in. Then, in advance, think about ways you may be able to contribute to their work or knowledge. This will create a much stronger bond then handing out cards and playing the numbers game. One core component of a successful entrepreneur is to create and maintain meaningful relationships.

Value Alignment over Hard Numbers

What is it that you, individually, value? How does that align with your company’s values? This is the internal work that should be done before you attend any conference. The ones that have done this work can always tell if someone is unclear and/or grasping for straws. Desperation comes across as the willingness to do ANYTHING for a buck. I’ve learned that this is exactly what impact investors and development agencies are trying to move away from. You may meet people that are still stuck in the “money at any cost” mindset, but this is not the path to integration and sustainability that most of us are trying to strive. Know what you can bring to the table, and stick to it.

Don’t sell Yourself, Be Yourself

Building on tip #2, our world is becoming more people generated than company generated. Which is to say, don’t underestimate the value of YOU, as a person, as an integral component of your business or company. The strongest leaders have started and/or worked in various companies, and their ability to reinvent themselves was because they could both separate and integrate themselves with the products and/or services being sold. What is your unique, personal value proposition? What do you bring to the table that few others can? Trust in your abilities and values, and be honest with yourself about some of your difficiencies. Also remember, sometimes people see more in you than you see in yourself (which is a whole other blog post)! Stay true to your mission and the companies mission, and do your best to build trust and integrity with your connections.

Perspective versus Planning

These conferences, if done right, give the conference goer the opportunity to learn something to take away a gem of insight, either through the conference programming or a via a new professional connection. You want to plan a few meetings while at the conference, sure, but you also want to be open to listen to everyone you come into contact with- from program associates to industry leaders. First, because you never know what conversation might convert to a business idea, or a lead. And second, because, if you have the right value system and you hold to the belief that everyone has value, and is worth investing in, you won’t just look for people that can help you. You will, hopefully, have something (knowledge, insight, business opportunities) to offer that’s of value to someone else.

by Bahiyah Robinson (bahiyah@appfrica.com)

United Nations

Appfrica is excited to be participating in the United Nation’s Innovation Fair next week in Geneva, Switzerland.

The United Nations will organize an Innovation Fair during the Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) at the High-level segment of the annual substantive session of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which will be devoted to “Science, technology and innovation (STI), and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)”. The primary objective of the Fair is to showcase innovative practices, approaches and projects in science, technology, innovation and culture from around the world.

Objectives of the Fair

The Innovation Fair will contribute to the objectives of the 2013 AMR, in particular, by:

  1. Sharing innovative products and projects in the area of STI and culture for promoting global and sustainable development;
  2. Demonstrating the strong links between STI and the potential of culture for promoting sustainable development and achieving the MDGs;
  3. Encouraging interaction among participants taking part in the Fair and Member States, which could possibly lead to the replication and scaling up of successful projects and encourage the creation of partnerships; and
  4. Promoting broad multi-stakeholder engagement in the work of the Council.

Link – http://www.un.org/en/ecosoc//innovfair2013/about.shtml

I was extremely humbled to be invited and proud to participate in the British Airways Ungrounded flight from SFO to LHR. It was certainly the craziest 11 hours I’ve ever spent above the Atlantic Ocean.

The UnGrounded concept began as a partnership between the United Kingdom Trade and Investment council, British Airways, the G8 Summit and IDEO. The goal was to spend the 11 hour flight brainstorming about how to encourage the pursuit of STEM careers in emerging markets. Obviously, quite relevant to Appfrica given our role in accelerating the growth of Africa’s technology sector.

British Airways UnGrounded Flight

The participants literally spent the entire 11 hour flight running up and down the plane, scribbling down their ideas on how to address increasing women participation in STEM careers, STEM in emerging markets, Western companies and their relationship with talent in emerging markets, and STEM in education. The end result was around 20 ideas for companies and projects that can address these issues that were presented to attendees at the G8 Summit.

British Airways Ungrounded

How did the UnGrounded flight come about?

Participants were nominated by global technology leaders in both Silicon Valley and London, with primary input from the UnGrounded advisory board. The advisory board is made up of senior representation from RocketSpace, Silicon Valley Bank, Andreessen Horowitz, Stanford University and Innovation Endeavors. All participants have been hand-selected to participate based on their experience and passion for driving the acceleration of innovation within developed and emerging communities across the world.

Upon landing, the ideas and solutions created on the flight were received by the United Nations ITU Secretary General at the DNA Summit, in association with the G8 Innovation Conference, in London.

You can find out more at ungroundedthinking.com

British Airways has announced UnGrounded, the first-ever innovation lab in the sky designed to connect Silicon Valley’s most notable business leaders and creative minds for the purpose of tackling challenges that affect the next generation of global innovators.

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In some places in the world, an entire generation of brilliant minds don’t have the opportunities or partnerships they need. In other places, there are more opportunities than qualified people. It’s called the “global misalignment of talent.”

The British Airways team, in partnership with the United Nations and DNA (Decide Now Act), is hand-picking 100 of the most forward-thinking founders, CEOs, venture capitalists, and Silicon Valley game-changers, and putting them on a flight from San Francisco to London. On board, they’ll do what they do best—innovate and collaborate to find an effective solution to this growing global challenge. Once back on land, they’ll present their ideas to ranking delegates from the United Nations.

The participants have been divided into several teams that will focus on tackling different issues. Team Ground Control’s goal is to take on the question of how to grow STEM in emerging economies around the world. The members of Team Ground Control:

Penny Abeywardena, Associate Director, Clinton Global Initiative
Lisa Anderson, Founder & CEO, Werqit
Ian Brady, Co-Founder, Social Finance
Kimberlie Cerrone, CEO, Tiatros Inc.
Simon Franks, Chairman, Franks Family Foundation
Marguerite Gong Hancock, Associate Director, SPRIE, Stanford Graduate School of Business
Jon Gosier, Founder & CEO, Appfrica
Richard Irving, Managing Partner, Pond Venture Partners
Ramana Jonnala, CEO, Convergent IO Technologies Inc.
Mark Kamau, Director, iHub
Nadeem Kassam, CEO, BioBeats
Erica Kochi, Co-Lead, UNICEF Innovation
Michael Levin, User Experience Designer, Google
Duncan Logan, CEO, RocketSpace
Lesley Mansford, CEO, Razoo Global Corporation
Eoin McMillan, Founder, SF DEV LABS
Hugh Molotsi, VP Intuit Labs, Intuit
Raymond Nasr, Advisor, Innovation Endeavors
Craig Newmark, Founder & Customer Service Rep, Craigslist, Inc.
Jeniffer Padgett, Executive Director, Community Technology Alliance
Laura Pincus Hartman, Professor and Board Chair, DePaul University & School of Choice (Haiti)
Jason Putorti, Creative Director, Causes
William Senyo, CEO, SliceBiz
Derek Shanahan, VP Marketing, Playerize/SuperRewards
Peter Sheehan, Regional Sales Director, TeraMedica
Nicholas Skytland, Entrepreneur
Michael Smolens, Founder & Chairman, Dotsub
Roy Sosa, CEO, Rêv Worldwide, Inc.
Christopher Supko, Principal, The Supko Group
Eze Vidra, Head of Campus, Google

Team Altitude will be tacking the challenge of how to foster women in STEM positions. The members of that team:

Beau Bergeron, Communications Director, IDEO
Sue Black, Founder, The goto Foundation
Kimberly Bryant, Founder & Executive Director, Black Girls Code
Baldwin Cunnigham, CEO & Co-Founder, Sponsorfield
Brian Doll, VP of Marketing, Git Hub
Keren Douek, Director of Recruitment Solutions, Jobdreaming
Denzyl Feigelson, CEO, Next Step
Gary Fowlie, Head of Liaison Office to UN, International Telecommunication Union
Tom Friel, Board Chair, Silicon Vally Community Foundation
Lauren Hasson, iOS Software Engineer, Bottle Rocket Apps
Sejal Hathi, Co-Founder & Strategic Partnerships Director, Girltank
Kelly Hoey, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Women Innovate Mobile
William Hurley, Co-Founder, Chaotic Moon
Kay Koplovitz, Chairman, Koplovitz & Co LLC
Todd Lutwak, Partner, Andreessen Horowitz
Jonathan Meiri, CEO, Superfly
Glenn Morgan, Head of Service Transformation, British Airways
Nellie Morris, Co-Founder, Kantian Advisors
Jason Oshiokpekhai, Manager, Strategic Partnership (Startups & SMEs), American Airlines
Cindy Padnos, Founder & Managing Partner, Illuminate Ventures
Peter Ragone, President, Exiles, Inc.
Johanna Schlereth, Strategy – Foresight – Deutsche Telekom
Guy Schory, Head of New Ventures, eBay
Leor Stern, Head of Business Development, IFTTT
Daniel Walmsley, VP of Engineering, NationBuilder
Cassidy Williams, Student, Iowa State University
Will Young, Director of Zappos Labs/General Partner, Zappos/VegasTechFund
Mike Zuckerman, Culture Hacker, Innovation Endeavors

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Partnering for Global Impact™ (PGI) is a landmark initiative to facilitate transactions in impact investing and philanthropy through one-to-one meetings. The annual PGI conference is a unique forum that encourages participants to share knowledge, engage with issues, explore investment opportunities and partner with one another. Our goal is to create a dynamic community of leaders that will increase the capital directed to scalable and sustainable solutions for global impact.

PGI brings leading families, private investors and organizations together with practitioners and entrepreneurs to generate solutions for the world’s less fortunate. The event is designed to enable participants to learn about and pursue investment opportunities with both a social and a financial return. This strategy, known as “impact investing”, is one of the most significant new investment paradigms to emerge in recent times. Interest is growing exponentially as investors seek to achieve more meaningful returns in their portfolios and as philanthropists introduce business models into their activities.

Bahiyah Yasmeen Robinson

Bahiyah Yasmeen, Executive Director of Appfrica, will proudly represent our company at PGI 2013 in Lugano, Switzerland.

Appfrica provides technology solutions that address problems in three areas: lack of accessible data about African markets, lack of communications infrastructure in rural parts of the continent, and lack of access to capital for African technology ventures.

Bahiyah Yasmeen Robinson became involved in social entrepreneurship at a young age, partnering with a friend out of high school to run a fashion line that sourced and imported local fabrics from women’s cooperatives in Tanzania. She went on to explore the world of media and entertainment in order to obtain a well-rounded view of the media industry, eventually returning to her true passion: international affairs and social entrepreneurship.

Find out more about Appfrica at PGI2013 by clicking here.

“Inside DEMO Africa 2012″ offers a look at the activity behind the scenes at last year’s DEMO Africa 2012 Conference. All of the footage was shot on location at DEMO Africa in Nairobi, Kenya on October 24th and 25th, 2012.

The inaugural DEMO Africa event took place last October 24-26, 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya. It provided a platform for 40 of the most innovative technology products from companies across the African continent with the opportunity to launch before a global audience of investors, media, strategic buyers, C-level executives and other entrepreneurs. This was the first time ever that a DEMO event was hosted on the African soil.

The “Cheetah Code” is a web TV series chronicling Africa’s young entrepreneurs and emerging technology sector. Find more great video material like this at CheetahCode.com

EDITED BY: Venita Kidza-Griffiths

Vanessa Clark
George Gally
Roach Roth
Francis Onwumere
Erik Hersman
Catherine Mahugu
Emmanuel Addai
Harry Hare
Thomas Debass
Thomas Genton
Nevi Mukugi
Phillip Nyanwaga
Stephen Nyumba
Maxwell Donkor
Gwendolyn Floyd
Aboubacar Sidy Sonko
Perihan Abou Zeid
Ellen Peinovich
Johnni Kjelsgaard
Eghosa Omoigui

Sasa Africa

U.S. Dept. of State
Echo VC Partners
Growth Africa
Savannah Fund

Thomas Debass
Henry Hare
Lorin Kavanaugh-Ulku
Bahiyah Robinson
DEMO Africa
DEMO Conference
Hive Colab

Today we’re proud to launch “The Cheetah Code”, an ongoing web series documenting the African tech and creative space. The series is a collection of mini-documentaries chronicling Africa’s young entrepreneurs, creative class, and emerging technology sector. Our goal is to record high-quality video content that is entertaining, educational, and inspirational all at once. You can find all of this content and more at tv.cheetahcode.com

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This project began by failing. I originally tried to fund raise money on KickStarter for a feature length documentary about Africa’s emerging creative class and young entrepreneurs. The Kickstarter didn’t find the funding it required to succeed, but that only meant it would take a little more work and time to make the project a reality. It also meant the project would need to take a different form. Rather than a documentary, which realistically few would actually watch at all (much less more than once), I decided to make this an ongoing series with new content about the space always freshly available.

Some of these episodes will be profiles of startups and entrepreneurs, others will be interviews featuring the advice and observations of prominent people working in the space.

Two of those interviews appear below, one with SpotOne Global founder and Apps4Africa supporter Marieme Jamme of Senegal and another with Savannah Fund and Ushahidi founder Erik Hersman of Kenya.

Interview with Marieme Jamme

Interview with Erik Hersman

We invite you to submit your stories, ideas, or companies for consideration to be covered here – http://appfrica.com/contact-us/

If you are a company or organization interested in sponsoring the show or partnering with us in some other way, we invite you to reach out to: info@appfrica.com

This quote from acclaimed film Director and Producer Steven Soderbergh struck me as immensely applicable to the fields of entrepreneurship and social impact.

The quote recalls another, by John Galsworthy, “Idealism increases in direct proportion to one’s distance from the problem.”

Passion without pragmatism is often ineffective…at worse reckless. We may all have our ideas on how things should work, but those who do successfully change things do work do so by embracing things that an idealist cannot, because by definition to an idealist compromise represents a form of defeat.

The lesson here for entrepreneurs (social or otherwise) is that it’s important to check your own ego when attempting to confront the challenges before you. Deconstruct your assumptions, validate your own opinions, and be willing to consider that at some point on your journey you’ve been wrong and that you’ll likely be wrong again.