Five Kenyan students make it to global technology innovation final contest

Five students from Precious Blood, Riruta in Nairobi are amongst finalists taking part in a global technology and entrepreneurship competition that kicks off in San Francisco, California today.

The students will be presenting their innovation dubbed M-Safiri, a bus booking app during the two day Technovation Challenge 2016, in which they stand a chance to win Sh1 million (US$10,000) funding to launch their app.

The M-Safiri app was developed through App Challenge, an initiative of Safaricom Women In Technology (WIT).

The five students — Priscilla Wambui, Laura Ayushi, Victoria Kanan, Gladys Wairimu and Harriet Karanja –who go by the name Sniper team, came up with M-Safiri to offer a solution to the country’s fast growing transport sector.

“The M-Safiri app was developed out of a strong urge to solve community problem using modern technology. It is the answer to the difficulties that come with booking a bus or matatu during peak seasons such as the festive seasons, back-to-school or when one is unable to physically go to a bus station to have a seat reserved for them,” the students explain in a brief about the app.

“We plan to provide a reliable and convenient way for citizens to book vehicles and channel transport payments so that the long queues that are usually in booking offices can come to an end,” they said.

The students hope that the solution that can also be adopted by providers of rental vehicles and limos is set to raise the standards of travel and transport in Kenya.

Through the Safaricom Women In Technology (WIT) initiative, students are not only mentored but also introduced to the basics of coding, user-interface design, market research, and entrepreneurship and presentation skills.

“We are proud of the success that the Sniper Team has achieved through this opportunity to take part in this global platform. The aim of Safaricom WIT is to inspire girls to see themselves not just as users of technology, but as inventors, designers, builders and entrepreneurs who can solve real-world problems through technology,” said Ann Cheboi, a Safaricom WIT member.

Ms Cheboi added that through Safaricom WIT, the girls will work in teams to develop mobile apps, conduct market research, write business plans, and create a “pitch” for funding for these apps that are aimed at solving local community problems.

Each team is supported by an advisor, often a computer instructor from their school and a female role model from the technology industry.

To qualify, the high school students form teams through which they develop apps, prepare a video pitch and business plan, which are submitted to a global judging panel yearly, where the winning team stands a chance to win USD10, 000.

The students were coached by Daisy Ndung’u, a student at Multimedia University and mentored by Anne Cheboi, Josephine Kamanthe and Emily Jematia Bett from Safaricom.

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