An Uber For Clean Clothes And Other Apps Changing Uganda

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Written by Dana Sanchez

From BBC. Story by Akwasi Sarpong.

Like much of Africa, Uganda has a vibrant technology and startup scene. Some of the technology being developed is geared towards e-commerce and creating jobs, but others are using their computer-programming skills to create tools to solve Uganda’s development challenges.

Yoza — which means “to wash” in Uganda’s major language, Luganda — is a locally developed android app that helps users find laundry services.

“Ten years ago, it was rocket science,” says Nicholas Kamanzi, one of Yoza’s co-founders. “But now if someone can just pick up their phone and get these services on demand, that’s a big thing.”

Yoza is like Uganda’s version of Uber for dirty laundry, using technology like location detection and social ratings to match service providers with clients.

But it takes local knowledge to implement this kind of idea in Uganda.

While there are enough middle-class Ugandans in places like Kampala with smartphones who can access the app, few of the laundry women have them.

So Yoza calls them up on their regular phones to sign them up and book them for jobs.

Nearly 140 women are signed up to do laundry, and Kamanzi says some of them have doubled their income.

Yoza is typical of Ugandan start-ups: in its early stages, using innovative means to tackle a local problem, and with a tiny customer base by international standards.

But despite this, Kamanzi says Yoza, which launched in August, is commercially viable.

Afrigal Tech is a group of young women in their 20s developing a product called Mdex.

It is a low-cost, portable hardware and software tool for diagnosing sickle cell anaemia, a serious hereditary blood disorder.

“If we put these in Uganda’s 3,000 health centers, many people would be reached, and if everyone got to know their sickle cell status, in the long run it would be easy to get a sickle cell-free generation,” says Africagal Tech’s Bonita Beatrice Nanziri.

Developing Mdex has taken hours of personal sacrifice, late nights up writing code and paying for the prototypes themselves.

If they can crack the finance and technical problems, they reckon they might have a product on the market by the end of 2016.

Read more at BBC.