Belgium’s King Baudouin Foundation has awarded three African tech companies – Barefoot, Kytabu and Farmerline, for outstanding solutions to notable challenges in the continent.
King Baudouin Foundation’s prize is an annual award to outstanding African entrepreneurs. The awardee(s) are rewarded for deploying technology towards driving social changes on the continent.
The winning businesses are Barefoot Law – Uganda, Kyatabu – Kenya, and Farmerline – Ghana.
For the first time since the start of the award, this is the first time that the Foundation has awarded the €75,000 prize to three winners.
The Barefoot is a legal outfit which provides fair access to legal services to under-served and poor in Uganda. Its services are also extended to other neighbouring African countries like Malawi and Zambia.
Barefoot started with Gerald Abila – then a law student, offering legal advice to strangers on social media platforms in 2012.
At present, Barefoot delivers its free services via various online platforms to 450,000 people, and answers more than 3,000 solved queries a month.
Peninah Naikula Igaga, Head of Projects at Barefoot, stated that the mission of the company is to ensure legal services to all.
“In a country where the majority of the population lives below the poverty line, and where speaking to a lawyer for an hour costs many people what they would earn in a year, we found it right that everyone should have access to justice and legal information.”
Kytabu is an education tech startup on a mission to end inadequate access to needed educational materials. It provides low-cost digitalized books to over 11 million students based on subscription.
Kytabu allows students to rent textbooks, chapters or pages and make payments via M-Pesa.
Anthony Ndungu, Co-Founder and Chief Information Officer at Kytabu stated that:“We’re just here to solve a problem.”
“Mobile penetration is growing faster in Africa than anywhere else in the world, so it made sense not only to take financial services and healthcare services to mobile phones but education as well,” Ndungu said.
Farmerline is a startup that connects farmers with needed agro-allied services. With Farmerline, farmers can have access to the market, financial information, weather forecast and farming tips and techniques.
The company uses voice and text messages in local dialects to help over 200,000 margin farmers in Ghana and across West Africa to be more productive.
Emmanuel Owusu Addai, Co-founder of Farmerline explained that: “There’s loads of literature available about agriculture, but most people in the rural areas don’t have access to it.
“So, Farmerline gives them that access, which translates to better opportunities to be able to grow their farms beyond subsistence farming to a business.”