Technology on the continent has grown in leaps and bounds, and young tech-entrepreneurs across the region are channelling towards changing people’s lives. The King Baudouin Foundation an independent and pluralistic foundation based in Brussels, Belgium with the aim of serving society was created in 1976 to mark King Baudouin’s reign. The foundation which is associated with the King Baudouin African Development Prize awards €200,000 every year.
This year the award was given to the founders of BarefootLaw (Uganda), Farmerline (Ghana) and Kytabu (Kenya) at a biennial ceremony in the presence of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium at the Royal Palace in Brussels.
According to the press release, the prize recognises the stand-out achievement of three young, African tech-entrepreneurs driving social change across the continent. The Prize seeks to empower those that are at the heart of social enterprises to advance, while endorsing a new model of global development that views entrepreneurship and local leadership, in lieu of traditional aid, as the key to sustainable change.
For the first time since its launch in 2012, the Prize will be awarded to three organisations to recognise the growing number of socially minded tech-entrepreneurs across the continent. All three organisations share the underlying principle of using simple technology to connect people with essential knowledge. Each tech-platform enables communities to access and share information in fundamental areas: education (Kytabu), legal rights (BarefootLaw) and agriculture (Farmerline).
The founder of Farmerline, Alloysius Attah was named on the 2017 Forbes Africa’s “30 under 30” list. The Ghanaian whose company seeks to transform farmers into successful entrepreneurs by increasing their access to information, inputs, and resources to increase productivity has also organised a number of Agric Entrepreneurship Clinics at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
The press release further stated that smallholder farmers are the backbone of African economies, but many are held back by a lack of readily available information. Farmerline connects over 200,000 farmers with market information, peers and larger organisations. As a result, farmers using the platform have seen profits grow by 50 percent.
Kytabu developed an innovative textbook content-leasing app for students. The app makes school-reading accessible to 11 million students in Kenya to break down the high rate of students currently without access to textbooks (1 in 10).
BarefootLaw is the first online legal service in East Africa. All of Uganda’s 3,000 lawyers are based in the capital city, leaving the rural population without ready access to services. The free-of-charge platform helps those who are most vulnerable to understand and defend their basic rights.
A sum of €75,000 will be awarded to each organisation and access to a wide network of stakeholders who will support them as they grow.