July 8, 2020
In early June 2019 I was planning a three months trip to Germany from Tanzania (East Africa) The purpose of my visit was to get to know the tech and innovation ecosystem in Europe, but also to network and more importantly raise funding for the startup I founded - Mobile afya. Prior to my trip I was already invited to a number of events and conferences, but I still knew I would have some spare time. Like any 21st century millennial, I hopped on the internet and searched for “things to do in Hamburg”. Women techmakers meetup organised by moinworld was one of the first results. I went to the website where I was immediately hooked. After learning more about moinworld’s work I knew I wanted to be part of it; not only to attend events but also to contribute to the goal of making tech more female. I affirmed my thoughts with the tweet below:-
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF?
I studied ICT - Information, communication and technology, but didn’t get to seriously do programming for work. In late 2015, as a part time project, I started studying the lives of homeless children which led me to discover the gap of health information in “sexual and reproductive health”. The findings encouraged me to do further research where I discovered a bigger problem which is the digital divide. This is the gap between demographics and regions that have access to modern information and communications technology and those that do not or have only restricted access. Focusing on the health sector, this gap prevents distribution of essential information and knowledge to those who need it most. In 2016 I officially started developing Mobile afya as a solution to the digital divide in health and a year later I was joined by my co-founder who is a medical doctor. Our application Mobile afya is the first USSD application in Africa using internet-free mobile technology to provide basic health information in local and native languages starting with Swahili in East Africa.
HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE VOLUNTEERING WITH MOINWORLD?
I had the most wonderful time volunteering in Hamburg with moinworld. I learnt a lot and had a chance to work with a team of brilliant women who didn’t see my inability to speak German as a barrier but an opportunity to incorporate a different experience to the organization. My roles included supporting digital communication with English content, identifying new projects, assisting the team in organizing women techmakers events, finding training spaces for new programs and supporting the team in organizing the 2019 Moin blockchain event. As an added advantage, I got the opportunity to network, attend educational and informative events, make useful contacts, friends and explore new possibilities for my own startup.
In September 2019, during a Women techmakers event at MOIA I met a woman who later joined our startup as a founding partner. She will join us in Tanzania in the next month as she left her engineering job in Hamburg and is now working full time for our startup. This colleague and great friend is a linked outcome of my networking and volunteering opportunity at moinworld.
WHAT IS THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR JOURNEY AS A FEMALE TECHPRENEUR?
“Growth” In a span of 7 months we have grown from a team of 4 Tanzanians to a diverse team of 14 people working from 4 different continents. We have raised more than EUR 100,000 in early stage funding from female investors. We have grown from a small business to a corporate company and complied with all legal requirements to operate including having an independent license. We have been featured in renowned news outlets such as Spiegel Online and DW Swahili Plus many more highlights including piloting a fully operating version of the application with hundreds of users.
WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES?
“I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy.” - Marie Curie
As a startup, Mobile afya’s biggest challenge has been working with limited resources while undergoing the long journey of product validation and creating a user centered mobile application. As a founder, my biggest challenge has been to create structures that support our growing operations and onboarding the right team members who share the same passion and dedication towards the growth and success of our startup.
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO OTHER WOMEN AND YOUNG PEOPLE WHO ARE BUILDING TECH SOLUTIONS?
Learn everything you can find about the problem you are trying to solve, then work hard and smart. Ignore the naysayers and the doubters! For women this is more important because some people will question your abilities based on your gender - keep going! Persistence is key, a high percentage of startups and businesses fail, this is because not all ideas are good, not all good ideas can create profitable revenue, not all profitable ideas are formed at the right time and only few well formed or timed ideas get to be successful. The only way to find out in which group one’s idea belongs is to start then learn, build, test, improve and learn some more then repeat.
“Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.”
- Mae Jemison, first African American woman astronaut in space.
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Would love to foster more connections, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our startup is still expanding the team and raising further funding, join us if you would like to support our goals and be part of our work.
Her Startup Mobile afya https://www.mobileafya.com/
If you too would like to encourage others with your story, please contact us! email@example.com