Kenya’s largest mobile network operator, Safaricom, has introduced a new online portal that is aimed at helping those with ideas to transform them into products that will help solve real world problems and at the same time contribute to the country’s economy.
The new portal, dubbed Zindua Cafe, will allow anyone with an idea to register on the site, share their idea, applications or prototypes with the telecom giant and after which Safaricom will take up to three weeks to review the idea before providing feedback to the owners.
Feedback of a reviewed idea will be given in either an ‘interested’ or ‘regret’ response alongside comments on why the idea was rejected or accepted. An interested response will be given in addition to a non-disclosure agreement and commercial contract demonstrating Safaricom’s intention to implement the idea.
The portal is expected to serve as a central place where ideas, products and services that are usually presented to Safaricom by customers will be captured, while ensuring that intellectual property and other laws are given due regard to avoid cases of developers feeling cheated.
Last year, the telco introduced a Spark Fund for Startups where it would help finance ideas from developers to become fully fledged businesses that will help transform how Kenyans carry out operations. At the launch, Safaricom highlighted the mistrust developers have had with the telco.
Now, to follow in the footsteps of the Seed Fund that was built to help developers feel comfortable as they partner the operator to realise their ideas, Safaricom has invested in providing education to Kenyans on copyrighting their products and protecting it.
Zindua Cafe Emphasize On IP protection
Since M-Pesa was introduced by Safaricom, the move attracted negative feedback and claims that the telecom had taken the idea from an unsuspecting Kenyan citizen and paid peanuts, only to later rake millions of money from the product.
This made most developers shy away from trusting the mobile operator with their ideas but a motivated Safaricom introduced the AppWiz Challenge to attract inspiring innovators, followed by the Spark Venture fund introduced last year, and now to bring in more ideas, the Zindua Cafe portal.
Zindua Cafe will be found under the company’s website and in its introduction, Safaricom has also included information that developers will need to learn about protection of their ideas, products and services as well as the rights that come with it.
To start with, the portal provides advice for those registering, directing those with ideas to ensure their ideas are patented and in the same light to provide proof of IP protection. It goes ahead to give an explanation about the various copyright bodies, including KECOBO, KIPI and WIPO.
Users will be required to disclose if their ideas are protected by providing registration numbers of any certificates received from the protection bodies as well as the copies of the relevant certificates.
Submissions to be made are required to have already been named, with the relating sector being selected from a list of various industries that include but not limited to ICT, Education, Agriculture, Energy, Manufacturing, Retail, Health and Financial services among others.
Applicants will also be required to describe their submissions in not more than 200 characters, through which they should be able to explain the problem their submissions will be solving in the lives of Kenyans or the targeted market.
It is designed to function just like normal business idea pitches that are done physically in a boardroom or in front of a panel of judges, only in this case the pitching will be done online, is expected to attract larger numbers and has put emphasis on IP protection.
Some could argue that this is a move by Safaricom to establish to what extent an idea is protected and uncover a loophole, but it is no secret that the telecom is encouraging innovation in the mobile technology space and creating jobs in the process as well as contributing to the economy.
The Zindual Cafe portal has a coffee brewing design with coffee beans and a coffee mug, and in the same design idea provides a feature for users to view their previous brews-representing ideas, prototypes and applications.