Built in Africa

Built in Africa is a podcast that puts the spotlight on African startups, innovators and everything that makes them tick. Follow us on social media @BinAfripod Fan mail: [email protected] Ad placements: [email protected]

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Latest Episodes

September 07, 2020 00:14:22
ITIKI: Simplified forecasts for small-scale African farmers

ITIKI: Simplified forecasts for small-scale African farmers

CreditsWest Africana by Hicham Chahidi – http://www.musicscreen.org/SFX from http://www.freesoundslibrary.com FULL TRANSCRIPT (Female robotic voice): New SMS. Reading… Voice actor: [In mystic tone and voice]: The full moon has scared the monkeys… Narrator: Without the proper context, that message makes no sense. But if you are a small-scale farmer living in Mbeere, Embu county, Kenya, it means only one thing… On this episode of Built in Africa, we will be looking at how South African agritech startup, ITIKI uses artificial intelligence to simplify rainfall forecasts for small-scale farmers around Africa. Most African economies rely on the activities of small-scale farmers who, according to the United Nations, produce about 80% of the continent’s food. With nearly 95% of their planting activities dependent on rainfall, accurately predicting weather conditions is crucial for small-scale farmers who can lose everything to wrong cropping decisions. This is where ITIKI comes in. Professor Muthoni Masinde: “The idea behind ITIKI is to produce relevant drought forecasts for small-scale farmers” Narrator: That’s Professor Muthoni Masinde, Kenyan computer scientist and founder and CEO of South Africa based ITIKI. Prof. Muthoni: “The reason why we use the keyword ‘relevant’ is because there’s so much information out there. If you look at your phone, there’s a forecast. If you turn on the TV, there’s a forecast. If you open a page in a newspaper, there’s a forecast. But for us, we realised that none of that is useful to the small-scale farmers, so we went about creating a solution that works for them.” Narrator: What is novel about ITIKI’s model is that it combines indigenous knowledge with technology to guarantee accurate predictions, and deliver them in a relevant, yet inexpensive way.  Prof. Muthoni: “We relay that information to ...

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August 10, 2020 00:13:34
One Kiosk Africa: Hyperlocal grocery delivery within 59 minutes

One Kiosk Africa: Hyperlocal grocery delivery within 59 minutes

This episode is brought to you by HostGator.com, web hosting that scales from easy to expert. FULL TRANSCRIPT Narrator: In February 2018, while serving as the chief operating officer of a Lagos-based tech startup, Adeshina Adewunmi found that he struggled to maintain a work-life balance. Adeshina Adewunmi: “My wife was actually ill and basically, I had to do all the grocery shopping. I had to also combine leading a tech startup.” Narrator: To ease the pressure, Adeshina went in search of online grocery delivery platforms but, according to him, he couldn’t find any that could deliver to his part of Lagos within the same day. Amidst all this, Adeshina observed the turbulence within the Nigerian eCommerce industry at the time. Most notably, Naspers, one of the most active tech investors in Africa, announced exiting Konga and OLX, its 2 biggest eCommerce plays in Nigeria, within the space of 3 days. None of the exits were under favourable conditions. This got Adeshina thinking about the obstacles preventing eCommerce from taking off in Nigeria Adeshina Adewunmi: “I started researching, alongside a few friends, to say ‘what can we do differently’? You know, Africa is very unique, copy and paste doesn’t work. You need to look at what works then readapt that model to fit our economy” Narrator: On this episode of Built in Africa, we spotlight how Lagos-based eCommerce startup, One Kiosk Africa, is exploring the hyperlocal model to achieve sustainability in a struggling market. In the course of his research, Adeshina examined how foreign companies, like US-based Instacart, operate a hyperlocal grocery delivery and pick-up service in over 5,000 cities. Adeshina Adewunmi: “I stumbled on Instacart, stumbled on Cornershop, stumbled on some other ...

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August 06, 2020 00:11:37
Akiddie: The 'Netflix' of African children's stories and books

Akiddie: The 'Netflix' of African children's stories and books

Additional sound effects from https://www.zapsplat.com FULL TRANSCRIPT Narrator: In this episode of Built in Africa podcast, we put the spotlight on how Akiddie looks to create the largest collection of African children’s stories using technology If you grew up in Nigeria, you probably heard this familiar call and response phrase before a night time story Voice actors: “Story story… story!”, ” Once upon a time… time time!” Narrator: Before the 21st century, storytelling was an integral part of most Nigerian cultures. Children would gather around adults, most notably under the moonlight, to hear different tales and folklore, sometimes in their native tongue. Stories about animals, the cunningness of the tortoise or brutality of the lion, for instance, would educate and entertain. Some of these stories would even change the way they approach the world, in terms of morals and values. In recent times, however, this aspect of Nigeria’s cultural heritage has changed a lot. An example is how most youth living outside their places of origin can’t speak their native language. For Dominic Onyekachi, a Nigerian fluent in Igbo and Hausa, two of Nigeria’s major languages, this is not much of a worry. He’s more perplexed by another issue. Dominic Onyekachi: “My sister had asked me to read a story to my niece. I went through her mini library and I discovered something unnerving. Not only were the stories white and foreign, with predominantly white characters and plots – I felt that wasn’t representative of her, of course – the themes were outdated and probably outrightly sexist”.  Narrator: That’s Dominic Onyekachi Dominic Onyekachi: “It emphasised marriage as the ultimate achievement for women. You see that in stories like Cinderella, Rapunzel which tell girls that ‘you are a ...

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August 05, 2020 00:10:40
Logistify AI: On-demand warehousing and fulfilment in Africa

Logistify AI: On-demand warehousing and fulfilment in Africa

FULL TRANSCRIPT Narrator: Growing up in rural Uganda, Daniel Emaasit and Tobias Tukei helped their parents operate their family warehouse and farm. For more than 20 years they struggled to maintain constant income from their warehouse, due to how demand for storage of agricultural produce fluctuated.  Male voice actor 1: “Our parents decided to focus more on farming than warehousing. This took a toll on their health. Our mom had a stroke at the farm and our dad developed chronic back pain. If our parents had focused more on warehousing, maybe their health would’ve been better,”  [Narrator] Daniel laments In this episode of Built In Africa Podcast, we’ll be taking a look at how Ugandan startup, Logistify AI, is helping businesses find flexible storage for their inventory. Narrator: Driven by the warehouse challenge, the brothers were determined to find a solution to help their parents. After graduating from the university, Tobias went on to become a professional logistics and supply manager, working in different logistics companies in the space of six years. Daniel, on the other hand, is an AI researcher and PhD data scientist in the US. During Tobias’ career in the logistics and supply chain management in Uganda, he noticed that many warehouse owners were looking to rent out their vacant spaces. At the same time, he received requests from shippers looking for storage space. As a middleman, Tobias took the initiative and started matching warehouse owners and shippers. Being a ‘one-man’ team, he spent weeks negotiating contracts between any two parties. This led to a lot of back and forth that included emailing requirements, faxing invoices, and many phone conversations. Male voice actor 2: “This was a pain. It would take a shipper ...

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August 04, 2020 00:09:37
MainOne: 10 years building West Africa's internet infrastructure

MainOne: 10 years building West Africa's internet infrastructure

FULL TRANSCRIPT Narrator: In 2008, Funke Opeke, a former executive with Verizon Communications in the USA had a vision. She had just moved back to Nigeria three years earlier and, while working with MTN Nigeria, one of the country’s leading telecommunications companies, she noticed the low internet penetration in the country. Internet cafes were popular but very few smartphones were available. Her plan? To bridge the digital divide in West Africa with the provision of enabling infrastructure. That vision gave birth to MainOne, one of Africa’s biggest telecom infrastructure providers. In this episode of Built In Africa, Funke takes us 10 years inside MainOne’s journey of building West Africa’s Internet infrastructure On Thursday, July 1, 2010, MainOne officially launched the first ever private submarine cable in West Africa. 10 years on, Funke Opeke looks back at that moment in time with fondness. Funke Opeke: “Putting a cable in operation 10 years ago today. First private cable, on time, on budget, we were a startup company. It was a big bet and we succeeded. So, yeah, that was a high moment” Narrator: The launch heralded a massive boost to Internet speeds in the country. With a large presence in Lagos, one could draw links between the rise in Internet speeds and the proliferation of startups in the city. Funke Opeke: “You kinda look back and see what’s happening with startups in Yaba, and the entire tech space in Lagos. Each time any of the founders reaches out and I see the appreciation, the recognition of what we have done, that truly touches me because I feel like I’ve really made an impact, helping people achieve their dreams” Narrator: For Funke, the rising levels of Internet penetration in ...

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August 03, 2020 00:08:08
Apollo Agriculture: Helping small-scale farmers maximise profitability

Apollo Agriculture: Helping small-scale farmers maximise profitability

FULL TRANSCRIPT Narrator: Around the world, most farmers have suffered different sets of challenges in scaling and growing their farms. Although lending and crowdfunding platforms have popped up over the past years, it’s still very difficult for smallholder farmers to access financing. Some banks and other financial entities have employed unsavoury and predatory tactics that affect these agricultural businesses in the long term. In this episode of Built In Africa, we’ll be taking a look at how Kenyan startup, Apollo Agriculture, is solving the credit problem small-scale farmers face with technology. In 2015, Geneva-based policy advisory firm, Dalberg Global Development Advisors conducted some research about small-scale farming. From its findings, $450b was required to meet the needs of smallholder farmers around the world. But these farmers only got $31b, which was less than one-tenth of the supposed financing. Coming closer to home, The World Bank reported that while agriculture made up 18% of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP, lending to the stakeholders in the agricultural sector represented only 1%. If there’s anyone who understands the struggles of smallholder farmers in Africa, it is Kenyan entrepreneur, Benjamin Njenga. Benjamin Njenga: “I grew up on a farm and my mother, a smallholder farmer, used to plant with low quality seeds, no fertiliser, harvested only 5 bags per acre each year” Narrator: That was Benjamin Njenga recalling his mother’s experience running her farm Benjamin Njenga:  “We knew if she would have been able to access fertiliser and hybrid seeds, her production would double but she couldn’t access the credit to buy these tools.” Narrator: The experience motivated Benjamin’s desire to solve the problem he faced with his mother. He would go on to study agribusiness and management at the university. He also ...

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