Thursday, March 5, 2015

BHO! A Malawian chat is born!

Are you tired of downloading Whatsapp every few months? Do you own a feature phone that is not compatible with other chats like WeChat? What if you had a chat that understood your local language? Bho! chat is the answer to all these questions.

Developed by a 19 year old National College of Information Technology Student (NACIT) student, Bho! is a new way for Malawians to chat instantly. Bho! allows users to send instant messages from their phone browsers to friends in a similar way like Whatsapp, WeChat or Telegram. Innocent Bvalani decided to develop a chat that works in all internet enabled phones including the Chinese brands which are very common in the Malawian market.

Bho! does almost everything that other chats do only that it works on the phone browser instead of downloading a dedicated application into your phone. It is also very compatible with almost every internet enabled phone unlike other chats which only work on specific operating systems or platforms.

In an interview, Innocent Bvalani said that he had in mind the poorest people in Malawi who cannot afford a smartphone.He said he wanted every Malawian to enjoy the use of instant chatting. He also included an option to send pictures or videos. Bho! also gives the user an option to use English or Chichewa as the main language in its settings.

To register with Bho! a user should visit on their phone browser and register with their name and phone number. A confirmation code is sent as a text to their phone. After confirming in their browser, they can start chatting with their already registered friends or invite their friends by entering their number on the invite space. Users can also search for their friends using their name or phone number.

Bvalani previously developed his own social network, Bridge, which attracted over 1300 users but he could not continue supporting it. He funds his developments from his pockets with the help of family members. He will however embark on a project of selling his idea to the corporate world to help him make it grow. Bho! will soon have an android application which is being developed.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Unicef Malawi plans to open an Innovation Hub in Blantyre

Plans are at an advanced stage to open Malawi's first ever Innovation hub courtesy of Unicef Malawi. According to Unicef's Technical Specialist, Micheal Kavuma, the hub will be at the University of Malawi's Polytechnic Chichiri Campus.

Kavuma said the hub will help in shaping innovators' ideas, funding them and providing mentorship. He was speaking on Sunday 16th November 2014 at the #TEDxYouth Blantyre Silmucast organized in the same room Unicef plans to house the Innovation Hub.

Malawi has no proper functioning innovation hub despite having many interesting innovators. The hub will provide a platform for future innovators like William Kamkwamba (the boy who harnessed the wind), Gabriel Kondesi (a boy who made his own radio station), Milwad Faluweki (an innovator who made a bicycle powered phone charger), Edmond Kachale (he made a Chichewa firefox add on translator).

Even though the hub will be based in Blantyre, it will also accept ideas from all over the country. It will also have an online platform to connect its membwrs from all over the country.

In neighboring countries, hubs have facilitated the growth of numerous startups and small scale enterpreneurs. Tech hubs like iHub in Kenya and BongoHive in Zambia have seen IT businesses growing and interest in Tech surging among youths. Malawi has other Tech meetups like Blantyre and Lilongwe Google Developer Groups (GDG), Young Innovators and the annual TEDxLilongwe where geeks and innovators meet to share ideas, conduct hackathons and barcamps.

Make it real with Zoona Money Transfer

They are an African solution to an age old African problem. One of the fastest and most brightest startup in this part of the continent has started its operations in Malawi. Zoona is a mobile money transfer born in neighbouring Zambia and spreading to other parts like wild fire.

If you have visited Peoplez shops in all the major cities of Malawi, you may have come across beautifully dressed youths operating a money transfer business under the banner of Zoona. It is Zoona's initiative to create employment and facilitate money transfer for emerging enterpreneurs in Africa.

In Malawi Zoona partnered with National Youth Council to recruit and train 80 youths to manage Zoona agent locations in Malawi. The agents are empowered to manage their own business while receiving financing, marketing, and training support from Zoona.

Zoona started its operations in Zambia in April 2009 and has so far spread to the whole of Zambia, Malawi and Capetown in South Africa. Zoona offers Emerging Entrepreneurs an opportunity to provide money transfer and other payment services to low-income consumers, while earning commissions and creating employment. They provide a mobile money platform, working capital financing, business management tools and entrepreneurial support focused on helping businesses grow and increasing financial inclusion in Africa.

Users of Zoona are able to send and receive money without a bank account, mobile phone or any gadget except an identification. A small percentage is charged to send money. Zoona is currently found in all Peoplez Shops and Supermarkets in major cities of Malawi.

Zoona means real in Zambian Chinyanja and Truth in Malawi's Chewa.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

TEDxLilongwe 2014 Simulcast in Blantyre

As the TEDx Lilongwe event will be held in Lilongwe, Blantyre people will be able to enjoy the same event in real time through a live stream which will be held as follows:

Date: Saturday 15 November, 8:00am to 4:00pm

TEDxLilongwe 2014 Simulcast @ Blantyre will be held at the Blantyre Polytechnic, Chichiri Campus… in the Unicef Innovation Hub (Opposite Civic Centre Offices)

Tickets are available from Ameca Cafe (inside Beit Trust Hospital premises) from Monday afternoon for MWK 4,000. This covers live streaming of all the action from the Lilongwe event plus refreshments and lunch. Capacity is limited to only 100 people.

The simulcast will live stream the TEDxLilongwe event, so you can catch all the action from all the speakers.