Usalama is the 2017 winner of The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL) 2017 Boostcamp. The 2017 BoostCamp attracted 8 shortlisted innovators for the justice sector with Usalama making the strongest case among the six from Kenya and two others from Rwanda.
The Usalama Application is a platform that connects users and emergency service providers including ambulance, security, police and even road-side assistance. Usalama further provides end users in an emergency situation a trigger for a distress signal, done by either long pressing volume down, shaking the phone thrice or tapping the emergency icon. This sends a description of their emergency, their GPS location, and the location of the nearest providers to two sets of people: The victim’s personal and pre-determined emergency contacts and an agent employed by an emergency provider.
The uniqueness and the projected impact given the level of need for emergency services sold this App to the jury that included former Chief Justice Dr. Willy Mutunga. Dr Willy Mutunga observed that Kenya is getting ripe for innovations in sectors that were not considered before. “It is exciting to see that today’s innovations touch on the most burning social needs in Kenya.”
Usalama’s win secured the group a slot to join other innovators at the Hague, Peace Palace in December to share and learn more on how best to impact the justice sectors. Usalama will also receive an investment seed funding of €20 000 and expert advice to grow their business. From the remaining group: M-Haki, Smart Shamba, Notonlab (Tambua),MSheria, Mulika Uhalifu, Gerayo and SocialWell, two more still stand a chance foracceleration support and mentorship as well as £ 20000 seed funding.
So how does the application work? Usalama is an android application combined with a back-end portal for the provider. When the end users are in an emergency and trigger a distress signal (either by long pressing volume down, shaking the phone thrice or tapping the emergency icon), the app sends a description of their emergency, their GPS location, and the location of the nearest providers to two sets of people: The victim’s personal and pre-determined emergency contacts and An agent employed by an emergency provider.
The company has implemented various ways of raising alert messages which included long pressing volume down, shaking the phone thrice or tapping the emergency icon. The team had also managed to add components like the Gender Based Violence, GVRC partnership which provide free ambulance rescue and recovery services to victims of gender based violence offences who in most cases are women and girls.
On how they were planning to financially sustain their innovation, the founders stated that they are bootstrapping at the moment by offering professional services for Mobile, web and desktop applications to clients and have served more than 20 clients this year with current Revenue from this being about $7,000 for the past financial year. This is through the Usalama Tech Group Limited.
Usalama also has a division that specializes in school software for Educational institutions. Since last year, they have served 14 schools and made a further $2,000 in profits. The profits are what we use to bootstrap at the moment to grow.