March 20, 2017

Edition 80: Local teams, global player

Hello! Another edition of the Other Valleys in your inbox. 

The title of this newsletter is from this Medium post about payment startup PayU's growth via the route of emerging markets, thanks to being a part of Naspers, one of the largest technology investors in the world. 


I was on a panel at a Tech for Good meetup in London a couple of weeks ago, where I heard about an interesting-sounding IOT device focussing on women's safety in emerging markets. Chakshu Saharan, the founder of Ignius, the company behind the (currently being developed) prototype, answered a few questions for the Other Valleys on their plans for the future. It was also inspiring to hear from Janet Chapman, who started Crowd Map in Tanzania, a crowdsourced mapping database. At the moment, they are focussed on mapping an area around the village of Magumu in Tanzania to help prevent female genital mutilation. 


A new period-tracking app called Hamdam launched in Iran. The app is actually an ingenious way of providing women information about domestic violence, marriage contracts, contraception, STDs and other important issues. It reminded me a lot of the award-winning Vodafone Red campaign in Turkey a few years ago, which similarly aimed to sidestep men and reach out to women who needed help. 

Thomson Reuters launched their latest innovation lab in Singapore this month, adding to those already existing in Boston, Waterloo, London, Zurich and Cape Town. 

500 Startups' Geeks On A Plane programme is heading to Africa in July, and they're currently accepting applications from investors, startups and executives to learn about investing in the region. 

I'm not particularly religious, but I can see the point being made in this post about how churches could anchor community solar gardens and give an impetus to the energy revolution on the continent. If the idea interests you, it's worth reading Dan Hon's much more detailed idea of layering on 'a church-type-meeting-peoples’-needs religion onto an existing online community'. 

I know a couple of people who have opted to get Estonian residency via their simple online process, and this post breaks down why that is (Estonia has 15,000 virtual residents apparently). There's a useful bit about the history of the country's progress in this domain. I highlighted this: '
The roots of Estonian tech-savvyness lie in the widespread computerisation of schools during the 1990s and the absence of legacy systems after the country regained independence from the Soviet Union. Estonians built a digital framework for their public sector, dubbed the X-Road, which serves as a secure, decentralised connection mechanism for all the nation’s public organisations. It helped coin a defining principle: the state should not ask its citizens for any data that is already held somewhere in its databases.' I'm working on something to do with digital identities at the moment, so this piece resonated a lot with me. 

Part of 500 Startups' Batch 20 is Via Global Health, which connects distributors in emerging markets with affordable and innovative devices and supplies. Health is one of the areas that is already seeing significant positive disruption, and I like the idea of using a global supply chain system to bring otherwise unusual yet useful devices to the billions of people who might not otherwise get access to them. Here's an interview with one of the founders from December that explains their business model. 

Every country ought to have one of these, if you ask me: NPR reports on a comic book about menstruation in Indonesia - aimed at boys.  

The Financial Times reports on China's push to become a tech superpower, especially in quantum computing. They are successfully luring research scientists from the US to China (and I'm not talking about Lu Qi of Baidu, though he is referenced in the piece!).

How WhatsApp is helping Somalian refugees get access to food. 


Via newsletter reader Ramona Liberoff is news of the call for applications for the Mobile for Development Utilities Innovation Fund, backed by UK Aid. Potential applicants could be mobile operators, technology solutions providers, and energy, water or sanitation providers. Interestingly, they do not prefer applicants working on pay-as-you-go energy services in East Africa, probably because of the already significant number of providers working on thisApplicants for the M4D fund must be working in Sub-Saharan Africa or South and Southeast Asia. Interested organisations should review the grant terms on the website and submit their concept notes by April 16th. E-mail with any questions.
If you are a journalist in or near Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo or Delhi, friend of the Other Valleys Abhay Adhikari is running a series of free one-day workshops on digital storytelling techniques. It is open to editorial teams, product owners, community managers and hyperlocal publishers. You can find out more and apply here. Abhay also interviewed Sumukhi Suresh in the run-up, an Indian YouTuber who will be at the European workshops. 

That's it for this edition. If you'd like to recommend a link, job, or opportunity to be featured in a forthcoming edition, please fill in this form. And recommend the Other Valleys to friends if you like: here's an easy way to do that on Twitter.

Till next time,