A Kenyan technology company has won the Nokia Innovation Challenge Award – beating companies from 54 different countries to emerge the best – effectively banking $1M (equivalent of Ksh 80 Million)
The award which is an investment in Virtual City was given to Managing Director, John Waibochi at the Nokia Developer Summit in London, UK by the new Nokia CEO Stephen Elop.
Virtual City Managing Director, John Waibochi attributed the success to dedicated service borne of innovation. He successfully demonstrated to the panel how to fully utilize the potential that a mobile phone has in adding value to the user.
“We have developed an application that enables distributors and retailers to sell in the market using the Nokia mobile phones for their sales, deliveries and taking orders and we have gone further to help them be able to collect their cash,” said Mr. Waibochi.
Nokia called on innovators from around the world to create a mobile product or service to improve the lives of people in developing nations and compete for the chance to win venture capital investment of $1 million.
Virtual City developed a solution dubbed Mobile Distributor – aimed at streamlining the supply chain for distributors and retailers of Fast Moving Consumer Goods in emerging markets.
It was designed to improve the distribution efficiencies for SMEs in the fast moving consumer goods market. The solution aims to boost profitability of SMEs by increasing the number of transactions as well as improving inventory management, the accuracy of records and reporting from the field.
Developers were required to submit the best idea for a new mobile product or solution designed to improve the lives of people in the developing world.
Mr. Waibochi said that Virtual City goal is to help companies realize the need for innovative use of technology that would save them money, instill efficiency in their systems, boost productivity and as a result improve their bottom-line.’’
Virtual City designs Technology Solutions that enable organizations to maximize the value of their IT investment by aligning IT with their business requirements, increasing business agility, managing business risk and optimizing IT infrastructure.
From a Nokia Challenge perspective, the award provides a solution that will bring value to a large number of beneficiaries comprising thousands of small and micro enterprises in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) Market through the smart application of mobile business and cashless payment technologies.
The project will generate revenue for the partners Virtual City and Nokia, while increasing the income levels of the stakeholders in the supply chain by opening up increased product sales coupled with additional benefits of mobile payment capabilities, transaction fees revenue, loyalty programs benefits, etc all facilitated by inexpensive and affordable mobile phones.
The new found ability to transact via mobile phones and use cashless means to make payments for goods or services, has the potential of availing solutions that the over 6 million users of mobile payment solutions from the telecommunication players can access and utilize in their business dealings, the aim is to fully utilize the potential that a mobile phone has in adding value to the user.
Background on Nokia’s Growth Economy Venture Challenge
Launched at CES 2010 by Nokia CEO, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, Nokia’s Growth Economy Venture Challenge called on innovators from around the world to create a mobile product or service to improve the lives of people in developing nations and compete for the chance to win venture capital investment of $1 million.
Why is Nokia holding the Growth Economy Venture Challenge?
Nokia is a leader in enabling mobile technology to transform people’s lives for the better (through projects like Nokia Life Tools, etc.). Efforts like The Progress Project and the Nokia Growth Economy Venture Challenge endeavor to show the mobile community what is possible in order to focus the entrepreneurial spirit of innovators on accelerating transformation in these areas of the world. We see this Challenge as a win for Nokia, a win for the developer that is selected, and a win for their customers.
What are the criteria for selection of the finalists and eventual winner of the challenge?
• The mobile product, application or service must undeniably enhance the standard of living or lifestyle of the target customer.
• The target customer must be from a region of the world where the general daily per capita income is $5 USD or less.
• The organization that receives the $1 million USD investment must have shown that it has the potential to be a vibrant and successful business that will be profitable for itself and its investors (as judged through normal venture investment vetting procedures).
The winner is Virtual City Ltd. of Kenya, which won for its Mobile Distributor Solution app. The software supports small and micro enterprises in emerging markets. John Waibochi of Virtual City will receive $1 million (USD) in venture capital and a commitment from Nokia to help turn his idea into a business reality.
The other 9 finalists in the Growth Economy Venture Challenge are, in alphabetical order:
• Bionic Power – The Portable Power Solution (Canada)
• eVOTZ (United States)
• FloCash Payment Network (United Kingdom)
• IDIFIED (United States)
• m-Employment platform using SMS (Pakistan)
• mmatcher – your mobile, your marketplace (Slovenia)
• Mobile JobHunt (China)
• Remote Diagnostics Kit (India)
• Transclick for Globalization of m-commerce (United States)
The innovative solutions are developed from the premise of innovative mobility solutions that simplify lives. The solutions will have a direct bearing on the bottom of the pyramid both in the servicing them and accessing them with Goods and Services. This will act as a major step in bring technology to the masses.