M4D case study: Innovative solution to Zimbabwe’s change problem

It is always exciting to see innovative uses of mobile phones solving real-life problems. In Zimbabwe since 2009 the adoption of the mixed hard currencies monetary regime the one problem that has refused to go away is that of change. Retailers, small business owners, street vendors, bus operators and many others are struggling to keep up with the demand of change.

Many consumers would have to buy extra goods to get a rounded amount to solve the change dilemma. However, this problem has been addressed by a local mobile phone airtime business, Yo Time, that launched a product allowing consumers to redeem their change for mobile phone airtime. This is definitely innovative and presents a real solution to the problem many Zimbabweans face daily.

Read more about this story on TechZim.


RLabs Nigeria

Only weeks away from our team traveling to Nigeria to join our partners and hosts Youth for Technology . RLabs Nigeria will focus on developing and empowering youth in using technologies such as Mxit, JamiiX and Social Media tools to distribute health information and provide peer to peer counselling services.

It will also work on programmes to develop new innovations that can be used to address the social problems experienced in the local context. The RLabs partnership with Youth for Technology is made possible through the support of The Indigo Trust and the official launch will be later this month. Watch this space as we keep you updated with developments in Nigeria.



RLabs Innovation Incubator: Growing Social Enterprises

It has been 4 weeks since the kick-off of the RLabs Innovation Incubator and Accelerator (InnovIA). The social enterprises being incubated this year is a wide variety and we will be featuring them on our website over the coming weeks. Some of them has already had a great start to the year although it has only been 4 weeks. Some of the highlights:

She’s the Geek launches DigiWomen programme for vulnerable women and empowering them with digital and entrepreneurial skills.
Urahisi, mobile ordering platform, have secured their first client and already attracted hundreds of users.
LetzGo, public transport booking platform via mobi-web, making progress with their go to market plan and focus on the Southern Africa markets. Also in the process of securing a technology partner for their payment gateway.
Chisana and Social Media Factory growing concepts who will be going into prototyping phase over the next few weeks.Social Media Factory has also secured clients and growing its micro-work team through the RLabs community.
MiGoX (website coming soon), community government social platform, have started development and curating of content.
Uusi, jobs social network, have passed 6.5 million job searches since its soft launch early December 2011. Currently more than 40,000 registered users have uploaded their Mobile CVs.

The above highlights after 4 weeks are proof that lots more exciting things are lying ahead for the social enterprises at RLabs and we will keep you updated on the progress as the teams work towards their October 2012 launch day.

Source: RLabs


Uusi: Your New Beginning

“Uusi” – meaning New in Finnish

After 18 months of conceptualizing, testing and getting community members to engage with it on different platforms, Uusi the brain-child of one of the RLabs champions, Terence Hendricks, finally was privately released to the public only on the MXit platform. Using MXit as the launchpad was an obvious choice in the South African market with an estimated user base of over 37 Million users.

It was also amazing to see the overwhelming response from our users that we had more than 40,000 active job seekers searching via Uusi and over 1,200 mobile CVs created in 72 hours.

Uusi is a mobile social network that provides its community members access to employment, business and educational opportunities through its network. It was also presented at the World Wide Web conference in September 2010 (see abstract) when the first version of the idea was being tested in the Western Cape region of South Africa. This first phase release of Uusi allows a MXit user to signup and search for relevant jobs according to their needs and criteria.

Uusi is also one of the start-up social enterprises that will be incubated and accelerated through the RLabs Innovation Incubator and Accelerator programme. Additional expansion to the project is under development and will be released over the next few weeks as part of the build-up to the official launch of Uusi end of 2011 truly giving its members their “New Beginning”.

Source: http://rlabs.org


ICT Incubator in Somaliland

Today was another exciting day for us as we announced a partnership between ExtendedBITS and RLabs to start the first ICT Innovation Incubator in Somaliland. This will provide young people from Somaliland the opportunity to not just gain valuable ICT and Entrepreneurship experience but also provide an opportunity to grow a new breed of African Technology Entrepreneurs in Somaliland.

This collaboration has been made possible through the ExtendedBITS partnership with VC4Africa and RLabs partnership with One Percent Club. Over the next few months we will be working towards setting up infrastructure in Somaliland and start this new journey of driving Innovation and the Social Revolution at the Horn of Africa.


RLabs Nigeria on the move

Last week the RLabs Nigeria partners had an interesting call discussing the rollout of the new project that will be using technology to address the problems of HIV. This partnership between Youth for Technology and RLabs will be supported by Indigo Trust who is know for its impact investments in Africa.

The next few weeks the teams in South Africa, Nigeria and United States will be working towards its launch date with a training bootcamp for young people aged 16 – 25. Not only will they be able to benefit from digital training but they will also become part of the larger RLabs Global Movement where we hope to leverage the expertise of our network.

The technology training with the young people will include the following components:

1) Social Media for Social Change
2) Digital Change Agents
3) JamiiX Mobile Counselling
4) Digital Storytelling

The planned launch is for January 2012 and with only a few weeks to prepare our team is excited to see RLabs Nigeria making an impact in the communities growing the Social Revolution.