Is Mimiboard the next big thing from Africa? Okii Eli
We have heard and talked about several Silicon Valley startups like instagram and Facebook that have changed the world but sorrowfully none is from Africa. Why not Africa? Will Africa bring forth the next big thing that will revolutionize the world? The Africa tech community is developing rapidly and many startups are coming up at alarming rate. Mimiboard, one of the startups from South Africa recently won Nokia and World Bank Open Innovation Summit best Innovator award. Google, the search giant is doing a case study on Mimiboard’s importance and significance to Africa.
Founded by Johan Nel of Umuntu Media, backed by eVentures, Mimiboard was launched at Mobile Web East Africa (MWEA) a few months ago. Umuntu media launched its first two local content portals iNamibia.co.na and iZambia.co.zm in January 2011 but in a bid to improve access to local content, Umuntu currently runs local content portals across nine African countries.
In a recent interview with Nel, he said that there was something missing in our content and we needed to be more hyper-local. “If we were to tick the box of shaking the local content game in Africa, we had to re-invent how we gather content” He said
He further noted that back when he was a kid in his village, they had traditional notice boards. “Even currently, be it in restaurants, institutions, or major entry points, you can’t fail to see one.
Why? This is all meant for passing information. “This was where Mimiboard idea originated from; a virtual noticeboard, named after Swahili word Mimi which means "I” He added
Mimiboard was developed nearly in a period of 12 months when it was ready for the market. According to Nel, anyone in the world can create a Mimiboard, i.e. an individual or a company. You simply decide where you want to create the board.
“Stick it in the ground virtually at any location, for example, on a building, street or in any country. Then give it a name for instance, Nairobi traffic; add categories to your board in any language.Moderate the board by adding banned words, phrases or sentences.
You can integrate with any twitter #Tag or @handle so that it displays on your board and you will be started with Mimiboard.” Nel says
Now the community can add notes to your board via many modes like SMS, or Twitter using any #tag or @handle.
The new community or personal board can be embed into your site just like twitter stream, embed to Facebook, printed out on weekly or daily bases or displayed on a screen.
“With Mimiboard, we can create real meaningful communities, gather information from the ground involving any activity, improve engagement and empower our people.” He says
Nel further adds that this startups mission will create mass content points across the world, so that you will be able to get instant news. “You will know when there is traffic on Mombasa road due to a truck that turned over, if an earthquake struck North coast, when a certain shop on River road has been robbed, when someone catches fish in Mombasa and is selling at a certain price.”
Two months since the launch, Mimiboard has experienced growth and is being used by many across Africa. A radio station in Cape Town uses it for its daily traffic updates and it is such a huge success.
Residents via SMS get notified in case of any traffic problem. A leading radio station in Kenya as well just created a board for all campuses that will be used to buy and sell books, talk about students’ issues and classes’ updates.
NGO’s are using Mimiboard to trace missing children and for disaster coverage. It is being used to combat crime in Cape Town in retail centres with large screens that display to all residents live.
According to Nel, Mimiboard is social, a problem solver, interactive, enhances eCommerce, spreads news, and much more. “It’s an all round startup which can be used by a trader, individual, companies or a group which can hold discussions on their board. This is what Africa needs, something that solves our problems and unites us.” He notes
Simple ideas change everything. Mimiboard can’t grow to be the next Facebook or twitter without us using it.