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SA’s Lumkani fire detector gets to global Venture finals

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16 start-ups from across the globe with a mission to create positive change have been announced as finalists of The Venture. The forward-thinking businesses, including Lumkani from South Africa, are competing to win a share of $1 million in funding from Chivas Regal.

After receiving over 1 000 entries from five continents, Chivas Regal has selected Lumkani as part of a diverse shortlist of 16 aspiring start-ups tackling a range of social and environmental issues. The finalists have been chosen to represent their local countries in The Venture global final, based not only on their potential to be profitable as a business, but also on their ability to offer scalable and sustainable impact solutions.

Each finalist has a truly unique story to tell about the inspiration for their startup. “The devastating shack fires that took place on New Year’s day 2013 in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, and displaced thousands of people was a catalyst for research and development that has brought us to create an affordable fire detection device to mitigate the loss of life and property,” said David Gluckman, co-founder of Lumkani.

“Enabling the growth of social entrepreneurs has become a key focus for Chivas Regal through The Venture campaign. We are really excited to have Lumkani representing South Africa on a global stage and we urge fellow South Africans to vote for Lumkani’s life-saving initiative,” said Paul Scanlon, Managing Director of Pernod Ricard for South Africa and Namibia.

From 11 May to 14 June, Lumkani will go head to head with the rest of the finalists in a public vote, competing for an initial share of $250 000 (from the $1 million fund). People from across the world can view the finalist profiles and vote for their favourite at The Venture.

The competition will then culminate in San Francisco on 24 July when finalists pitch for the remaining share of the $1 million fund in front of an expert global judging panel. Sonal Shah, former Director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation in the White House under US President Barack Obama, is the latest judge to be announced alongside Adrian Grenier (actor, producer and social entrepreneur), Morgan Clendaniel (Editor of Fast Company’s Co.Exist) and Alex Ricard (Pernod Ricard Chairman and CEO).

In the week leading up to The Venture Final Pitch, the finalists will attend an Accelerator Week in Silicon Valley – the epicentre of the startup world – where they will receive mentorship from influential figures in social enterprise and companies such as Google, Duarte and IDEO.

To find out more and vote for your finalist, visit The Venture.

The Finalists

Country Company Founder(s) Overview
Brazil MGov Guilherme Finkelfarb Lichand MGov is a consulting firm that specialises in public policy management and social impact. We use mobile technology to better understand the demand for, and evaluation of, public services by speaking to those that they affect most; the people who use them.
Bulgaria Arthesis Demir Tonchev At Arthesis we create beautiful prosthetic covers for leg amputees who want to express themselves boldly and creatively. Wearing our covers makes amputees feel confident the same way as wearing stylish clothes. An Arthesis cover weighs about 250 grams, which makes it very convenient to wear.
Chile Algramo Jose Manuel Moller Affordable food is hard to come by in the outskirts of Santiago, Chile. There are few supermarkets and the produce at small stores can often be up to 40% more expensive than in larger outlets. To address this issue, we at Algramo buy essential products, such as rice, beans, lentils and sugar, in bulk from suppliers and distribute them directly to small convenience stores through our unique mechanical dispensers.
China Coolpeds Tony Chan At Coolpeds our mission is to offer an innovative, compact and eco-friendly way to travel. One that not only helps people get around efficiently, but also improves local communities by reducing pollution and congestion. So we’ve designed and manufactured the lightest electric transporters in the world. Our scooters are not only light, they’re also foldable, produce zero emission and will even charge your phone.
Columbia Diseclar Juan Nicolas Suarez Bonilla Where others see rubbish, garbage and waste, we at Diseclar see furniture. Thanks to our inventive manufacturing process, we’re able to turn waste materials into stylish furniture that can be used in- and outdoors.
Dom. Republic Conuco Solar Raul Aguayo Many people don’t have the space in their home or place of business to have their own solar panels installed. Conuco Solar will ensure that anyone can still have access to clean, renewable energy by essentially renting space at our solar farm, rather than having to set up their panels at home or their business where space may be limited.
Gulf Dumyé Sahar Wahbeh Dumyé handcrafts personalised cloth dolls and, for every doll we sell, we give one to an orphan to make their own through an art workshop. In this way, we believe we can bring love and light into the lives of both our children and those who have not been spoken for.
Hong Kong Diamond Cab Doris Leung Diamond Cab is the first ever barrier-free taxi service in Hong Kong. Our vision is to provide a safe, accessible service that makes it easy for a previously marginalised and vulnerable group of people to interact with the world, while also being a driving force to promote genuine social progress in our society.
Japan SenSprout Yoshihiro Kawahara SenSprout’s mission is to make farming more efficient, to produce more crops using less water. We help farmers better understand their crops and fields with our low-cost sensor technology. Our wireless field-monitoring system is enabled by a unique “printed electronics” sensor, making it possible to monitor soil conditions and environmental information in real time.
Mexico ¡Échale! a Tu Casa Mexico Francesco Piazzesi Lack of affordable housing is a social problem, so we’ve come up with a model that makes the community part of the solution. We aim to provide at-risk families across Mexico with ecological, affordable housing by helping them build their own.
South Africa Lumkani David Gluckman At Lumkani we use technology to decrease the risk of devastating fires in informal settlements. Our innovative fire detector was designed to mitigate the loss of life and property caused by the spread of shack fires.
Thailand Socialgiver Aliza Napartivaumnuay Socialgiver is a lifestyle website with a social twist. We offer handpicked services and experiences, such as hotel deals, gift-cards for restaurants and tickets for events from leading brands at exclusive rates. For every purchase, 70% goes directly to support social projects of the buyer’s choice and 30% helps grow the Socialgiver community.
UK Two Fingers Brewing Co. Will Waldron Two Fingers Brewing Co. is a beer brand that gives back to those that drink it by giving all our profits to Prostate Cancer UK. Using the finest handpicked ingredients, we create beer that’s not just better tasting, but better for men everywhere.
Ukraine Line 24 Ilona Kotova There are over 13 million elderly citizens in Ukraine and more than eight million people with disabilities. Some have no immediate family or their relatives live far away. Line 24 provides a 24-hour medical alarm service for these vulnerable, at-risk groups.
Uruguay Chipsafer Victoria Alonsoperez Chipsafer is a platform that will transform the way farmers care for their livestock. It not only tracks and detects anomalies in cattle behaviour, but does so remotely, autonomously and in real-time. Chipsafer then sends all this information directly to the farmer, who can access it on a laptop or phone.
US Vendedy Christine Souffrant Vendedy is a social enterprise startup that is digitising the street vendor industry via mobile technology. For the first time, street vendors can upload photos of their products online via mobile devices so that a traveling consumer can search, purchase, and pay for an item via SMS.

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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

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The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.

The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games. 

It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.

MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.

“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”

New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.

“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”

Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.

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Blockchain unpacked

Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.

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This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.

A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.

Each block stores:

–           A number of valid records or transactions.
–           Information referring to that block.
–           A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.

Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.

As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.

How is blockchain so secure?

Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.

Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.

In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.

What else can blockchain be used for?

Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.

Use of blockchain in healthcare

Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.

Use of blockchain for documents

Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.

Other blockchain uses

This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things  (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.

Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.

Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.

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