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Bringing the Data Revolution to Africa

Millions of micro-sized businesses in sub-Saharan Africa keep informal records, or none at all — but nearly all have smart phones. That’s where Ogugu comes in.

Ogugu is a start-up developed by three Davis UWC Scholars at Colorado College, Harvey Kadyanji ’18 (Tanzania, Waterford Kamhlaba UWC), John Roy Ballossini Dommett ’18 (Portugal, Mahindra UWC) and Niyanta Khatri ’17 (Nepal, Mahindra UWC), along with Brian Biamah ’18 (Kenya, Waterford Kamhlaba UWC) at the University of Oklahoma. Their concept is to provide microbusinesses with a mobile accounting platform that helps with inventory management and data analytics.

Planning to launch in Tanzania this summer, the team has secured $10,000 in funding as a third-place award in Colorado College’s annual Big Idea competition, and has been accepted into a prestigious business incubator in Tanzania, Dar es Salaam Teknohama Incubators. “That gives us exposure to local investors and partners, and the opportunity to better refine our idea — which we have, with their help,” Harvey explains. “For the past two years in a row, one of the incubees has been nominated for Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Africa. It’s a huge deal, in Tanzania.”

According to the Ogugu business plan, the informal retail sector in sub-Saharan Africa includes “roughly 30 million microenterprises,” with some 2.79 million registered in Tanzania. “With our mobile accounting platform, these businesses will be ready to compete, comply with government regulations and innovate their operations,” the plan declares.

“We see a lot of potential, not only in Tanzania but in sub-Saharan Africa,” Harvey says. He and a contract employee have been gathering data in Tanzania. Fifty businesses participated in a pilot, and the team has been learning, Harvey says, “how to adapt assumptions to African realities. It’s very exciting,” he sums up. “We think we’re at the beginning of the data revolution in Africa.”