Kenyan airtime swap startup wins Ericsson Africa Innovation Award

November 19, 2015
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Team Chura from Kenya, has been selected as the winner of the Ericsson Innovation Awards (EIA) for sub-Saharan Africa for their App that allows subscribers to switch, buy and cash your airtime across networks in a multi-sim environment.

Chura won the sub-Saharan EIA top prize of $10,000 (Sh1 Million) beating off strong competition from runners-up Guavay, an undergraduate team from Tanzania and third-placed P.O.I Information Technology Services, from Ethiopia.

When operational, the app aims to ease movement across networks through services that enable the exchange of airtime from one network provider to another. The app also allows users trade in their airtime for money and enables simultaneous distribution of airtime to multiple phone numbers on networks in Kenya.

“Team Chura’s app brings a number of services that address regional challenges, including speed, reliability and coverage. The App shows a strong business potential and creatively addressing the theme “Future of City Life,” said the judges.

Open to students and start-ups from across the region, teams that entered the EIA competition for sub-Saharan Africa were asked to develop ideas that use ICT to improve the quality of urban life. Each entrant was required to come up with an innovative idea, a business plan and a description of why it should be chosen as winner.

Although the regional EIA has come to a close, the global competition is still ongoing with registration ending November 30, 2015. The EIA 2016 is open to all current students in teams of two to four people. At the close of registration, 10 semi-finalists will be announced on December 18, 2015.

The teams will each work with two selected Ericsson experts to develop a minimum viable product (MVP) and business plan for their idea. Four teams will be chosen by the jury to participate in the EIA 2016 grand final in in Stockholm, Sweden.

The winning team will receive a cash prize of EUR 25,000, with a second-place prize of EUR 15,000 and two runners-up prizes of EUR 1,000 each. Career-enhancing incentives are also on offer for students in both competitions: all participants will be invited to apply for Ericsson opportunities, and semi-finalists will be interviewed for internship or full-time positions.

“In an environment where most people have sim cards registered to more than one network, this solution creates an ease for managing and optimizing airtime. We congratulate Team Chura for emerging winners of this competition and wish them the best in their endeavors,” said Tumi Chamayou, Vice President and Head Strategy, Marketing and Communications, Ericsson sub-Saharan Africa.

Chura was formed by five former University of Nairobi students who wanted to solve mobile money interoperability bottlenecks. The team was incubated at UoN’s incubation hub, C4D lab in Chiromo, Chura.

“Chura allows users to exchange airtime for money not only within but also across mobile networks. You can also send airtime to someone who is not in the same network and you can even buy Orange credit using M-Pesa or vice versa,” said Co-founder Samuel Njuguna, in an earlier interview. 

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