Connect Africa wins big at OM SEED

Martin Endjala

An App designed to help visual and hearing impaired persons scooped the cash prize of N$50 000 at last night’s Old Mutual OM SEED pitch held in Windhoek. The Connect Africa App that started last year has the ability to translate written words, pictures via phone scan into voice/sound readable in both English and local languages.

Through the Old Mutual Sustainable, Economic & Empowerment Drive (OM SEED) initiative, Old Mutual Namibia along with Launch Namibia, the Financial Literacy Initiative (FLI) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Accelerator Lab, awarded three entrepreneurs from Windhoek N$85 000.

During the Award Ceremony, Ndapewa Teressius, the founder of Connect Africa App could not hide her excitement when she was announced as the overall winner of the Windhoek edition of OM SEED from 20 participants.

“The Connect Africa app provides good support to the visual and hearing-impaired members of our society by enabling them to access essential services independently by turning images into sound.

Through the app, they will be able to study at institutions of higher learning, participate in conferences and meetings without sign language interpreters, conduct banking services on their phone and so much more. The prize money will help us to add more features on the app and provide training within our 14 regions,” Teressius said.

The App is said to be operational currently and brings in about N$10 000 in one month with over
8000 users thus far. And it aims to reach more of its targeted audience across the country.

Johannes Nawa, who owns a Community Bakery in Okuryangava came in second place and walked away with N$25 000.

“I will use the money to get a better place for my bakery that will enable me to start using electricity instead of wood when I bake,” said the excited baker, who started making bread from a not so conducive environment since 2012 to date.

Third place went to Diana Nakuumbe, who produces Eembe Jam, which saw her winning N$10 000.
“With the money I have won, I will buy a pulping machine along with spending money to better market myself,” Nakuumbo stated.

Mufaro Nesongano, Manager: Communications of Old Mutual Foundation, highlighted how quickly the initiative grew saying “a little under a month ago we launched OM SEED and thereafter our partner Launch Namibia travelled to the various communities in Windhoek, Keetmanshoop and Oshakati to sensitise them about OM SEED. When we closed off our entries on 22 July 2022 we received over 800 applications from the three participating towns”.

From the 800 applicants, Nesongano pointed out that the selection process was not easy, as the talent displayed was unbelievably that they had to select 180 best applicants from the 800 narrowing it down to 60 and again to 20.

The Old Mutual communication manager described the journey as intriguing and inspiring seeing
them undergo pitch training and entrepreneurial training, which he underscored as a step in the right direction in the upliftment of their ingenuity to become innovators of tomorrow.

Nesongano went on to say that it was thus humbling to hear the various ideas pitched from the
entrepreneurs in the business sector such as pig farming, poultry, general dealer shops, technological apps, wellness services, beauty and hair products and agricultural produce.

The Acting Secretariat Manager for the Financial Literacy Initiative Iyaloo Ailonga, congratulated OM
SEED Windhoek winners for 2022, praising them for showing hard work, dedication and commitment to realise their dreams through their pitches. “We are excited to see how your business
will grow in the future,” Ailonga said.

By Observer