Recap of MIT’s StartUp Lab 2013 in Senegal

BY ASTRID CHITOU

Last week marked the end of a 3 week accelerated course held by the notorious MIT school for young technology entrepreneurs, held at the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie, in Dakar. The course led by Eric PIGNOT (Entrepreneurship Lead), Victoria POPIC (Technical Lead) and Daphne BASANGWA (Technical Assistant) offered students a walk through; taking a project idea and transforming it into a workable mobile product and service all the way to presenting it to potential investors.

 

The course introduced app development and coding to those who weren’t familiar with it while those with good coding and development background benefited from the crash MBA lessons. Combining these two universes is a solid stepping-stone to success as it helps in creating an often-overlooked aspect when building a startup which is team formation.

 

The four participating teams in the program were asked to come up with a mobile Android application that would bring innovation in Senegal’s ecosystem. Three out of the four projects focused on the educational sector providing services that would help fight illiteracy among women, poor performance at school and note sharing among university students. Perhaps these are to emphasize that the key to development lays in education, as many African countries believe today. The fourth team proposed to introduce car-sharing services for university students as finding adequate transportation can often be challenging/expensive in Dakar.

 

The team called African Soft with their application Alloua was selected  by a jury of five. The team will receive a notebook, further business training and development from the CTIC (Senegal’s technology incubator). All participants have been invited to seek internships in Silicon Valley as well to further their experience in the sector.

 

MIT’s Africa Information Technology Initiative, sponsored by Google and Nokia has been in existence since 2000 and was first launched in Kenya. Since then, over 1,500 have benefited from the accelerated courses.

The program is currently continuing in Sri Lanka, click HERE to watch an inteview detailing the program and its impact across the globe.

 

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