Almost 3 years ago, 6 young minds from very diverse background including Engineering, the Military, Actuarial science and computer science were brought together by one shared vision: To define the standards in mobile application development for emerging markets. In each of these minds was a burning desire to build amazing mobile experiences that not only would be impactful but also great to use. This meeting was the birth of a mobile consulting company: MobiDev that has grown to deploy mobile applications in Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia and most recently Nigeria.
Led by Leonard Korir, one of the co-founders, the team has successfully gone through the tough first two years where most early stage company die off and things seem to be looking up in their 3rd year of operation.
MobiDev Kenya LTD focuses on developing enterprise grade SMS/USSD applications, Android, iOS and Windows apps. The technical strength is founded on hands on experience gained from designing, development, testing and deployment of mobile apps across the continent and also the fact that each team member went through infoDev sponsored 4-6 months mobile app development and entrepreneurship program offered at m:lab East Africa – one of the 5 labs in the world that is focused in technology in the mobile space.
The training program which covered the technical skills coupled with entrepreneurship, a bit of user experience and design skills saw over 100 developers trained and startups like MobiDev Kenya LTD mTracker, mVerified among others created.
Last month, MobiDev partnered with Scytl – a worldwide leader in provision of secure electronic voting, election management and election modernization solutions – to deploy a real time election results transmission and tallying system engaged in Nigeria. The application, that ran on a combination of technologies including USSD, SMS and Maps was used by one of the leading political party to receive real time vote tallying results from the agents on the ground thus enabling party officials get the elections results as soon as they were counted from over 119,000 polling stations.
According to the team lead, Leonard and the project management lead, Moses Kioko, a project of such a scale comes with lots of challenges. The first being a 4 week hard timeline to develop, deploy and train all the agents on how to use the application. The team travelled to Nigeria on 22nd of March, a few days before the elections to conduct trainings and generally prepare for the elections. Just to get a sense of the scale: Nigeria has a total of 36 states and the FCT (Federal Capital Territory of Abuja) with 119,000 polling stations, about 4 times the number of polling stations in Kenya as per the last election. The population is also estimated at over 173 million people, more than 4 times Kenya’s estimated population and has a total area of over 923,768 km2(356,669 sq mi), making it the world’s 32nd-largest country.
Challenges were many in the project and it takes an experienced team to continuously respond to each challenge faced promptly and in the wisest way possible. This was well shown in the ability to have work around on logistical challenges, simplifying the training material for users and even making changes to the application based on factual real-time data and feedback came from agents and users.
According to Leonard Korir, the Chief Executive Officer MobiDev,The project opened up opportunities for the startup in Nigeria and they might be doing more projects in Nigeria and West Africa in the near future.
Apart from elections, MobiDev has deployed a number of projects in other industries including Mobile payments/banking, Agriculture, education, Insurance and Governance. One of the notable apps is a County Yetu, a governance app that enables citizens stay up to date with what is happening at their counties including news, development projects, tenders, job vacancies and general information on their county. The app also enables citizens to engage county leaders through provision of both textual and pictorial feedback .
In education, MobiDev helped see Akengo (now Arifu), develop from an ambitious idea to a live SMS and Web-based adaptive learning system that serves users in Kenya and soon Tanzania.
MobiDev has also seen through a product in mHealth- Totohealth, led by Felix Kimaru from an idea to a platform that is helping save lives of children under 5 years using simple SMS technology. Totohealth provides twice-weekly customized alerts on expected development changes from conception 5 years of age and currently serves over 6000 mothers. Totohealth also won 2015’s vision 2030 innovation award from Kenya’s ICT Authority.
It has taken time to build a great team culture and as per Leonard, there is still a lot of work to be done and he is positive that mobile will continue to impact so many people’s lives in ways that we cannot even imagine at the moment.