Africa has long been touted as the continent with the most growth potential when it comes to tech and innovation. Many African countries are building their own equivalents of Silicon Valley. Moreover, tech companies have been setting up offices and launching into markets across the continent. And in addition to growing their customer bases, these companies are committed to making positive impact.
Over the years, Google has been doing its fair share for small businesses, content creators and business owners across Africa. The tech giant recently picked five South African as part of its innovation challenge dubbed “Google’s News Initiative” (GNI), which aims at helping the journalism industry thrive in the digital era – their projects are among 34 chosen from 17 countries, to receive a share of $3.2 million in funding.
The recipients, among them 21 journalists and publishers from 10 countries in Africa, were selected for their work in promoting diversity, equality, and inclusion in the journalism industry. The GNI competition is part of Google’s $300 million commitment to helping journalism thrive in the digital era and has seen news innovators step forward with many exciting initiatives demonstrating new thinking.
Tech firms also provide wider employment opportunities. For example, helping vulnerable domestic workers to find work in a dignified manner is what lies behind the creation of SweepSouth, a home-services company that operates in Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, and Egypt.
SweepSouth’s online platform provides clients who need their homes cleaned with pre-vetted home service providers, while simultaneously enabling domestic workers to find work opportunities in areas and at times that suit them, and overall earn higher than market rates.
Technology is one of the most powerful enablers of connectivity, and since it’s start up in 2014, and subsequent pan-African expansion into big-market regions, SweepSouth is set to leverage that potential to ensure that domestic workers are able to connect with as many employment opportunities in the most convenient way possible.
“Traditionally, domestic workers found work through the opportunities that people around them knew about. It was a word-of-mouth system that made it very difficult for them to access a wider range of employment opportunities,” says Alisha Rajan, country manager for SweepSouth in Kenya.
“Our online platform now allows domestic workers to take advantage of 100% of the opportunities that they’re exposed to. It gives them the dignity and power to choose who they take work from, at times that suit them. It puts control back into the hands of a group that is often exploited and underpaid, and demonstrably improves their lives,” she adds.
MFS Africa, a company that enables mobile payment gateway, is built on “borderless world” with 320 million mobile wallets currently connected to its digital networks, enabling cross-border payments remittance firms, financial service providers, and worldwide merchants to thrive.
The firms chief executive and founder, Dare Okoudjo believes that interoperability is crucial in allowing customers of different mobile financial services providers to interact with each other. This can be done by making direct payments from the mobile money account of one provider to the mobile money account of another provider.
To do this, MFS acquired Global Technology Partners (GTP) recently, broadening its bank and fintech base and supplying tokenisation in the mobile money space by connecting with established card ecosystems like Visa and Mastercard.
The ultimate objective is to give mobile money users on the continent access to the global digital economy and new possibilities. For its partners, these new capabilities enable scalability, security, and new markets and consumers as technology innovation continues to penetrate and reshape societies.