AMPION Venture Bus Launches Sixteen Startups


• E-Maji and JamboCar win latest Venture Bus competitions, overall 16 ventures created on Ampion buses in East and Southern Africa.
• Startups developed innovations in the fields of e-Health, e-Commerce, transport, mobile education, consumer empowerment and more.
• Final African Venture Bus 2014 to visit Tunisia, specific focus on developing ICT solutions for democratic participation

Cape Town, South Africa/Kigali, Rwanda
After an exciting journey through eight African countries, this year’s Southern and East Africa AMPION Venture Bus winners were chosen at the final events at AfricaCom in Cape Town and the Kigali innovation hub KLAB, respectively.

Clean water for Africa: E-Maji tackles one of Africas most pressing issues
In Cape Town, nine teams pitched their newly formed startup ideas at the AfricaCom master class stage in front of a judging panel of industry experts and an audience of ICT enthusiasts and executives from around the world. The 20 person Jury included leading business representatives such as Emilian Popa, CEO at Groupon South Africa.

Winning on the day was team E-Maji which pitched their smart water quality testing unit. It measures water quality at a drinking water source in real time. If a contamination is detected, the system then uses a built-in GPRS transmitter to send GPS coordinates of the contaminated water source to authorities to facilitate a speedy reaction, but not before the unit shuts down water supply using an electronic water valve. The team designed the unit to be used with Africa’s 700 000 boreholes which have proven very complicated and difficult for authorities to maintain and monitor.

Speaking on the sidelines of the AfricaCom event, co-founder Taf Makura narrated how the team came up with their innovation:
“When we got on the bus we had a very clear and simple objective, we were going to use technology to solve a problem without focusing on the technology itself. We were aware of how technological requirements of any kind can quickly get in the way of mass adoption in Africa. Our technology had to work in the background without placing any technical requirements on the people it was meant to help.”
His partner Seida Gharsallah, co-founder of E-Maji and a banker of the year with ING Netherlands, added: “We have every intention of exploring the feasibility of this project!”

This year’s AMPION Southern Africa startups are:
M.E.M. (Mens et Manus): online platform allowing entrepreneurs in rural areas to obtain or develop knowledge on product design and development of hardware and software consumer products via a feature phone
Keetla: provides a platform for schools, parents, teachers and students to be efficiently involved in the education process
Road Rules: mobile app to study for ones driver’s license on mobile devices
Shining Homes: a service allowing clients to book cleaners for their homes in a simple and convenient way
Mlimi: platform connecting the agriculture ecosystem allowing for access to inputs, technical information, markets, funding, and a community of like minded stakeholders bridges the gap between the informal and the formal sector in Africa
My Time for Change: easy to use, transparent web platform improving citizen engagement by connecting organisations in need and potential volunteers
SchoolitUp: Working on making education material ( books, uniforms etc.) accessible to everyone by providing an online platform linking both parties
see above

AMPIONeer Netia A. McCray, Founder and Executive Director of Mbadika, wrote a daily recap during the 3500km trip from Harare to Cape Town on the AMPION blog. Her impressions on the journey can be read on The unique experience, she concludes, had everyone on the edge of their seat:
“I feel not one AMPIONeer would disagree with the statement that our journey was literally a life-changing experience.”

Venture Bus East Africa: Rwandan ICT minister welcomes AMPIONeers in Kigali

The 12 person jury in Kigali included high-level government representatives, head of the ICT Chamber, investors and leading Rwandan companies. AMPION sponsor and pharmaceutical giant Merck was represented in the jury by Alexander Hoffmann. His Honorable Minister Jean Philbert Nsengimana from the Ministry of Youth and ICT opened the Kigali event, welcoming the AMPIONeers to Kigali and pointing out how important the initiative is to foster the creation of new businesses and thus create employment opportunities in the region.

In Kigali, seven freshly baked startups presented their ideas around e-Health, e-Commerce, transport, mobile education and consumer empowerment to a crowded house. Participants and jury members agreed that the level of presentation and novelty of ideas was astounding for the short time the AMPIONeers had on their tour. Following a partnership with German pharma company Merck, several startups worked on their startups in cooperation with healthcare experts in order to develop e-health solutions. In only 4 days, the group assembled into teams, conceived startups ideas, created business plans and even programmed prototypes.

This year’s AMPION East Africa startups are:
JamboCar – a car pooling service
mTunza – an e-Commerce education service for farmers and rural businesses
myDawa – an information and calendar service for medication intake
MobileHathidi – an audio story telling application
Smart Umeme – a service for monitoring solar energy consumption
Glukoa – a diabetes information and community application
mTiba – a cloud service connecting doctors and patients

The jury selected MyDawa on third place, Smart Umeme was the runner up. The winner of this year’s East Africa tour is the team Jambo Car. Betty Ngugi, CEO of Jambo Car expressed her delight after winning first prize:
“I am thrilled to have met such amazing people on the trip with AMPION through East Africa! Ideas turned into lean pitches and strangers became friends. We look forward to building our platform and rolling out our business as a joint African – European cooperation.”
The Jambo Car team has already developed a prototype for the first carpooling marketplace in East Africa.

The AMPION East Africa Tour took a surprising turn when the bus that was meant to drive the group from Nairobi to Kampala did not show up. Staying true to the teams entrepreneurial nature, we came up with a creative solution – with the help of Kigali based friends Jon Stever, manager of The Office and Joan Mazimhaka from Ilume, we contacted RwandAir. Within hours we had agreed on a sponsorship deal and RwandAir made it possible for all Ampioneers to fly to Kigali!

The AMPION tours in Southern and Eastern Africa were made possible by the help of AMPION sponsors and partners including the German pharmaceutical giant MERCK, who will be supporting the e-health startups after the bus, GIZ, SAIS and Good Cop Bad Cop.

Outlook for December: Venture Bus North Africa to travel Tunisia
The final African Venture Bus 2014 to visit Tunisia, home country of the arab spring back in 2010. The bus will feature a specific focus on developing ICT solutions to improve democratic participation and citizen governance.

International applicants with expertise in this matter are highly encouraged to apply:!apply-for-venture-bus/c1fvc

Business experts, designers and coders are also still welcome to apply. For the Tunisian Venture Bus, AMPION is cooperating with the BMWI, the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. The bus is scheduled to travel Tunisia from December 14-19.

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