If you’re a Zimbabwean tech entrepreneur, this might be of interest to you. A competition launching next week at the Harare Club of JumpStart — the community driven initiative for tech entrepreneurs — will enable developers to launch their apps and earn revenue from them on Econet Wireless, Zimbabwe’s biggest cellular operator with an estimated 6 million subscribers.
The competition is called the ForgetMeNot Africa eTXT Apps Challenge. ForgetMeNot Africa (FMNA) is the company that partners with mobile operators to provide internet type services to users who don’t have smartphones or data connections. FMNA provides these services as part of its SMS-based Optimiser Platform. Optimiser currently provides internet-free Facebook, email and online chat on Econet via the eTXT service.
The competition will require developers to create innovative SMS-based apps that can be used by Econet’s mobile phone users via two-way SMS. Developers can use any programming language for their entry.
Note that competitors do not have to be Zimbabwean citizens. The competition already has some South African entrants, but due to the fact that entrants are required to attend the Test Drive event in Harare and that they must be registered to Econet, it is expected that the competition will attract mainly Zimbabwean developers.
What’s up for grabs? There are three iPads to be won, along with US$2,000 seed capital for developing prototypes and, if successful, winning apps will be launched on Econet from which the winning team will receive an ongoing revenue share.
How do you get involved? The first step is to join the Jumpstart community. Step two is to register on the FMNA Developers’ Platform. Once developers have created their app they can submit it onto the Econet eTXT Platform.
The best app ideas will be shortlisted and developers will be asked to attend a Test Drive Final in May, where they will receive mentoring from FMNA experts to fine tune their prototypes.
Finally, developers from shortlisted apps, will have the opportunity to present a business plan and code for their app to a panel of judges, who will select the winners.
The Zimbabwean leg of the competition follows the success of FMNA’s Kipokezi Apps Challenge in Kenya. Apps that were submitted for the competition includes a traffic information app, a treasure hunt game and an app that provides football fans the latest information on the Kenyan Premier League.
Jeremy George, CEO at FMNA, said: “Our recent Apps Challenge in Kenya was a huge success with some truly unique and innovative ideas submitted. Zimbabwe also has a wealth of developer talent and we want to give them the same opportunity to earn revenue from their ideas. We are giving developers the chance to bring their ideas for unique apps or games that are useful, fun and highly relevant to Zimbabwean mobile users.”
Launched in April of last year as the eTXT service, ForgetMetNot has been very successful in Zimbabwe, essentially doubling access to internet messaging for Econet subscribers.
The competition will be launched at the JumpStart Community event at the Harare Club on Tuesday, March 27. FMNA founder John Carroll will speak at the event, and will be running workshops to assist developers the next day.