Ugandan youth entrepreneurs receive strategic investment from Dahabshiil
Dahabshiil has provided seed capital to two innovative start-ups founded by young entrepreneurs in Uganda as part of a programme co-sponsored by the US Embassy in Kampala.
Dahabshiil has invested in GSM-based agriculture market solution, MoBFIT (Mobile Business Financial Information Tool) which allows farmers to pre-sell their produce to buyers before harvest. MoBFIT is an agricultural supply chain management software that will directly connect rural farmers to buyers in the market at a low cost via SMS technology.
It aims to broaden the market for grass-root farmers, reduce the cost of marketing farm produce and the dependence on middlemen. MoBFIT was the winner of the hackathon during which six teams competed in an intense race-against-the-clock to develop business propositions to meet key market needs and create jobs.
Due to the strong calibre of ideas presented at the hackathon, Dahabshiil also agreed a further investment to support second placed initiative, Yaka Ko, an emergency power credit service to help clients enjoy uninterrupted power usage.
In addition, local startup incubator GoBigHub offered free mentoring to all of the hackathon participants through its partners Bytelex, Azems Value Add, and Strategy Consults – meaning all of the teams will receive support to turn their business ideas to reality.
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Dahabshiil CEO, Abdirashid Duale said: “Both MoBFIT and Yaka Ko, alongside many of the other business ideas presented at the hackathon, are an incredible demonstration of the power of young people to drive social and economic change.
“We hope that this event is seen as an illustration of what can be achieved through coordinated partnerships between the public and private sector. Dahabshiil is very proud to have collaborated with the US Government as part of +256 Rising, in the run up to the next Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Silicon Valley later this year.
“I have been inspired by President Obama and his vision to support entrepreneurship in Africa and throughout the world. His commitment is reflected by his personal participation in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kenya last year.”
US Embassy Chargé Trish Mahoney, said: “This hackathon represents part of the U.S. Mission’s ongoing efforts and key goal of increasing economic opportunities for Ugandans across the country.
“Programmes like this hackathon should help Uganda improve the quality of entrepreneurship and promote its sustainability, so that new businesses lead to new jobs. Entrepreneurship brings down barriers between communities and cultures, and builds bridges that help us take on common challenges together.”
Quintan Wiktorowicz, Managing Partner of social impact organization, Affinis Labs, which planned the hackathon, said: “The event was designed to unlock talent, creativity and innovation amongst Ugandan youths in order to help create jobs and reduce unemployment. We feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with these talented young entrepreneurs.”
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”