Archive for the ‘enterprenur’ Category

Social Expectations Perspective: Jumia – African Company or Not

This is the hottest topic right now with valid arguments on both sides of the equation, so here is my unsolicited opinion.

What we can agree on is Jumia calling itself African is to look exotic, different to be able to raise its valuation hence more money to the shareholders. Arguments that this is a good thing, raises the visibility and opportunity for African based startups (this is like a client giving you a bad deal promising more work – never happens), opens more FDI money (never to happen) are all hope that it works out, with the proponents being the same to say bad publicity is better than no publicity at all.

Now that we have gotten that out that out of the way, what makes a company “African”. To answer this question, one needs to look around at the social structure which drives the expectations. Let me use an analogy here, many of us Africans who live in the urban areas have connections to our “villages” or ancestral birthplaces, and there is an expectation to send help back to support what happens there. Infact when many an influential person has died, and the murmur at the burial is what squalor they are buried in for the afterlife forgetting where they came from.

The expectation is that as you grow in the world, you do not forget where you came from and bring the “village community” along so that they too benefit from your success, which benefits others in the “village community”

So back to Jumia, which is an example of a rich person who comes to a community, builds a sprawling mansion, does not live in it, then goes ahead to sell themselves as a pillar of the community, yet all the support they give to the community is low wage menial unproductive labor.

Is the aim of the business to “only” make boatloads of cash or to profitably solve an problem/challenge while having a positive impact on society?

Over to you folks  looking forward to hearing your thoughts and opinions too

UPDATE: These expectations are also being raised by the EU/USA over the large multinationals like Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft etc which incorporate in tax havens, leverage loopholes and pay no “taxes” in countries where they sell services and make revenues.

 

Crowdsourcing Validation Rules for Uganda National ID

I am curious about the ability to validate that the Uganda National Identification Number (NIN) is well formed. However this does not validate that the NIN actually belongs to the person presenting it or that it is correct.

The rules that I have been able to gleam are:

  1. Must be 14 characters long
  2. First character is a letter of the alphabet. C seems to be a common letter – does it stand for citizen?
  3. Second letter is either M or F – male or female
  4. Characters 3 and 4 are numbers, which are the year of birth. Cannot be after 00 since that would make a person below 18
  5. Characters 5, 6, 7 are numbers

How can you help? Which of these rules do not match your NIN? Share any additional patters to build a repository of rules that can later be mapped to programming language validations – Regular expressions and validation frameworks

Harvest Money Expo – What Next for Agribusiness in Uganda?

harvest_moneyOver the weekend, I took time to go to the Harvest Money Expo (https://www.newvision.co.ug/tag/harvest-money-expo/) with the aim of getting some ideas to stimulate my mind with agribusiness opportunities. I awas fortunate to also meet with Robert Kabushenga, Dr Kisamba Mugerwa and Hon. Rosemary Sseninde.

I did some personal introspection on why agribusiness for a technology slanted and entrenched character like myself? My reasons are wide and varied, but include:

  1. The healthy eating challenge – with the rampant industrialization of the food industry, we are eating more and more hormone driven chemically enhanced meat and vegetables, sugar induced juices. This is an opportunity to start taking charge of my eating, in a small but significant way just like my friend James Wire Lunghabo (https://www.instagram.com/wire_james/)
  2. The investment challenge a long play – agribusiness is the next business frontier. Every one has to eat – you can skip for a day or two, but you must eat! So this is the best place to invest, however carefully & gradually growing a portifolio with focused investment.
  3. Retirement plans – oh yes, in about 15 years I will be knocking on retirement from the daily technology grind as I am not sure if my body will still be able to take the beating. So now is the time for me to start planning on what I will do then
  4. Family bonding activities – with all the technology drivers, concrete streets, walled homes, hustle and bustle, simple farm activities provide a chance for the family to bond, learning and teaching from each other. Let us mis-educate each other
  5. Learning platform – agriculture provides a different learning dimension and perspective, how to play well with mother nature at the same time trying to beat her at her game. GMO vs indeginous, do I need to make that capital investment or structure working capital, unskilled vs semi-skilled vs skilled human resources, business processes, organic or commerical business models, what kind of inputs to use, market approach and segmentation, to-do or not-to-do value addition, local vs foreign, and a hybrid to mix all of them together in one pot.

So did the expo deliver, oh yes, I had no expectations, walked around with an open mind, and obviously the depth and breadth of solutions and distributors was immense and varied.

Given all that, what next?

  1. Focused Agricultural Information provision in specific areas for farmers is truly a missing gap – this is what National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) was meant to be. Not just extension workers going to farmers, but experience, exposure and eduction with the aim of improving productivity. The value chains exist, but how to bring all the players in line without exploiting the farmer
  2. Alternate Financing options are necessary – BOU Agricultural Credit Facility (ACF) is only in name, but not available to the farmers in the $5,000 to $50,000 range who are the main drivers of the sector. The commerical banks pay lip service to farmers treating them like lepers without taking time to create specialized vehicles for success.
  3. The need to coordinate players into “assembly lines” from seed/baby animal to plate. This is illustrated by the expo organization, which attracted government, public and private sector players, local and foreign, as well as across the value chains.
  4. In addition to knowledge, quality inputs are a missing link – seeds, fertilizers, chemicals (yes a necessary evil), practices and processes to improve production.
  5. Agribusiness education – the marriage between agriculture and business practices, which is a paradigm shift that is required to drive the sector to new heights. This will lead to the realization that there are multiple models that can be adopted, there is no single right way to approach agribusiness, but its all based on context, location and complimentary advantage.
  6. A need for a sprinkling of relevant appropriate technology (not only IT), but even tools, to spur growth in the new area. The soil stabilized bricks, hyroponics and natural shea butter based beauty & health products, are areas that really caught my eye.

The million dollar question for me is “How to drive agribusiness from subsistence to semi-intensive at a national scale?”

 

Styx Technology Group Launches Poultry Farm Revenue Calculator App

As part of the Styx Technology Group mission to leverage technology to support executives identify, implement & refine strategic technology interventions in their business & target market segments, we are proud to partner with Kkungu Poultry Farm Enterprises Ltd to help bring relevant, useable cutting edge technology to Uganda agriculture executives.

Leveraging the experiences shared in this post Poultry Feed Economic 101 – Changing the Supplier Scenario, the team has built a simple easy to use calculator to address this question using minimal inputs to help poultry farm managers:

  1. Estimate their spot profitability based on the cost of inputs and revenue from sales of eggs
  2. Use simple data to decide whether to make the feed change based on the impact on the bottom line.

Download the application today from Google Play store with this link http://bit.ly/poultry-farm-calc

Please do share your feedback and let us know to improve this by sending email to poultrycalc at styxtechgroup dot com

Screenshots below:

Layer Profitability computation

Layer Profitability computation

Sample Layer Profitability computation

Sample Layer Profitability computation

Feed Switch Comparison Computation

Feed Switch Comparison Computation

Sample Feed Switch Comparison Computation

Sample Feed Switch Comparison Computation

Syzygy – Release 2 – Uganda Mobile Money Cost Estimator

Syzygy is a Uganda focused utility calculator (launched by this post https://ssmusoke.com/2015/08/11/launching-syzygy-uganda-focused-utility-calculator/), this new release adds a tool not available anywhere else allowing you to estimate the costs of a mobile money transaction. Are you sending to a registered number, unregistered or trying to withdraw from an agent or ATM?

Hope this app saves you the hassle of searching for the transaction chart which is usually hanging in the agent’s booth.

Do let us know what you think of the new release.

The link to the app is http://bit.ly/syzygy-ug

A screenshot of the new calculator is below

Mobile Money Cost Estimator

Mobile Money Cost Estimator

Alternate Approach to Voice Price Wars in Telecom Industry in Uganda

My colleagues at Styx Technology Group are looking at alternate approaches to telecos in Uganda to increase their ARPU (Average Revenue Per Unit) a metric for revenue from each customer, instead of the current price war tagged to 3/= per second (US$ 0.1 per minute).

  1. Accept that voice is now commodity, being pushed further out by VOIP for both regular users and business, due to the improving Internet connectivity both via fixed and mobile connections. There is no longer a competitive edge to having cheaper voice, the revenues are fixed and can only go lower
  2. Bundled services: Currently there are separate plans for voice, SMS and data, which have to be purchased daily or when needed. The monthly plans have a premium attached, so without looking at the numbers I suspect that a majority of the regular users purchase daily plans as and when is needed. The telecoms can create bundled plans (already existing for voice) to include SMS and data without the hefty premium. Additional incentives can be provided for further discounts when a user pays consistently for a plan for 6 months, without any breaks.
  3. Smartphone Device and Service Contracts: While these are being gotten rid of in the US and Europe, the market in Uganda is ripe for disruption, where smartphones are paid over 12 to 24 months, with bundled services. Obviously the argument here is the risk associated with lending in Uganda, but options include partnering with financial institutions can help reduce the risk profile, work through employers to deduct the costs of the contract directly at source.
  4. Multiple Smartphone Data Plans: This is similar to the device plans above, however this allows the owner of the plan to register additional devices for monthly fee to share the data. This has been common with unlimited plans, and would provide a new revenue stream.
  5. Extending Mobile Money Services: The best service to copy is PayWay with a wide range of devices, and platforms on which to use the service based on what infrastructure the agent has. I would like to be able to swipe my VISA card and transfer money to my account without having to go through the bank interface which tends to be down more often than not.
  6. Bulk Sales of Devices to Schools: The new underlapped customer base, sell more devices to schools get parents to pay part of the costs to push e-education services, why do kids still have to fill Advanced Level and University Level choices on paper forms that can be lost? With powerful tablets in the $50 to $100 range only the telecoms have the clout, network and drive to push this through.
  7. Custom Devices and Services: These are for data collection needs, surveys etc, which can be accessed through third parties but pushing the envelope on what is possible. The key here is flexibility of service, enabling channel partners build and innovate by creating custom services and plans to meet their specific needs.
The telecoms need to think of blue ocean strategies to create new markets, provide ability for others to leverage their platform investments for new revenue channels, leveraging the example of Amazon that has created a multi-billion dollar technology infrastructure business based on solving internal problems.
What do you think?

UPDATE: This blog post follows the same thinking as The Telecom Wars in Uganda – Round 5 – 2015 and Beyond on this blog too

Launching Syzygy – Uganda Focused Utility Calculator

Just as Google has rebranded into Alphabet, on behalf of Styx Technology Group I would like to officially announce the launching of Syzygy which is a platform for a comprehensive utility calculator for Uganda based on PAYE Calculator (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=co.databud.payecalculator) which was released by myself in 2012.

There are many calculators and utility apps out there, but there are none focused on Uganda specific computations and tools required within the country today. This initial launch is an upgrade of the look and feel of PAYE Calculator to the Android material design, refactoring of the back end to provide the necessary modularity for expansion.

Need any specific features or computation for consideration please contact us at styxtechgroup at gmail dot com

Looking forward to hearing from you

The link to the Syzygy app is http://bit.ly/syzygy-ug

Update 3:

Just had a little techie moment there so I thought I would add some more meat on the technology thinking and approach used for this new platform:

  1. App Compat Library – which provides material design features for pre-Lollipop devices, and this app should load on Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) devices
  2. Model-View-Presenter (MVP) design pattern akin to Model-View-Controller for web applications. The models will be POJOs (Plain Old Data Objects)
  3. Theme and other functional customizations are being kept as minimal as possible to speed up development and reduce the quantity of testing
  4. Layouts will be as fluid as possible to handle multiple screen sizes, however more focus will be placed on functionality to make this app useful after all Material design is already beautiful.
  5. As few permissions as possible will be requested of you during installation, after all the app does not need them.

Update 2:
There have been quite a number of questions on the inspiration behind the names, so here goes:

  1. Syzygy – In astronomy this is when there are three (3) celestial bodies in a straight line usually the earth, sun and moon. At this point once could argue that the bodies are either in conjunction (working together) or in opposition. In reference to this utility all the tools are meant to work together so that the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.
  2. Styx – In Greek mythology this is the river in between this world and the underworld, with the power to make one invincible. We at Styx Technology Group seek to bridge the divide between those who understand and those who do not understand technology, its impact to society and how to leverage it for growth.

Update 1:
Screen Shots

Home Screen

Home Screen

Navigation Bar

Navigation Bar

PAYE Calculator

PAYE Calculator

%d bloggers like this: