“First” African Language Driven “chat-bot” Designed to Serve SMEs

Ovamba has been supporting SMEs with “Growth-As-A-Service” for the last year and realizes that business training and formal education is a luxury not afforded to some members of Africa’s entrepreneurial sector, and is often taught in western languages.

Close up user hand click to asking chat bot ( what can i help you with? )
Close up user hand click to asking chat bot ( what can i help you with? (Photo Credit: www.shutterstock.com)

US-founded FinTech innovator Ovamba Solutions has collaborated with tech giant Microsoft to develop and produce the “first” African language driven “chat-bot”.

Ovamba said in a statement that the chat-bot is designed to serve the millions of African SMEs (small & medium enterprises) who face exclusion from financial services due to the challenges of functional and business literacy.

The chat-bot was conceived, designed, and created by Ovamba and Microsoft and will be rolled out via Ovamba’s mobile app, ‘Ovamba Plus’.

In response to the opportunity to serve the African Continent, Microsoft put a team together headed up by Shawn Cicoria, Lilian Kasem and Claudius Mbemba to help Ovamba create the chat-bot.

Prashant Mahajan, Ovamba’s chief technology officer who led the company’s tech team on the project, said Ovamba has been supporting SMEs with “Growth-As-A-Service” for the last year and realizes that business training and formal education is a luxury not afforded to some members of Africa’s entrepreneurial sector, and is often taught in western languages.

“We can help them to sustain growth by delivering business support and training in the language that they are most used to”.

Ovamba is a US-founded FinTech innovator that develops online platforms and mobile applications to serve SMEs in emerging markets with short term funding for growth.  It raises capital from global investors to fund the SMEs and uses its tech to solve business and functional literacy challenges to promote financial inclusion.

Ovamba’s application, ‘Ovamba Plus’ is available for Android phones as a download.

The FinTech firm was co-founded by Marvin Cole and Viola Llewellyn in April 2013.

“Current banking processes and some FinTech solutions are supposed to help the financially disenfranchised.  Bank solutions, application forms and contracts assume that all SMES are fully literate, and actually end up further alienating those who may not be able to read or speak French, English, Arabic or any other colonial language,” Ovamba’s president & co-founder, Viola Llewellyn said in a statement.

“If we don’t address this then we are missing the true promise of FinTech and the opportunity to include the informal sector in GDP count”.

Ovamba has offices in the USA, Cameroon, India, Mauritius, and Johannesburg. The company has expansions plans to grow into Ghana, Senegal, Sudan, and other regions in 2018.

Claudius Mbemba shared the Partner Catalyst Team’s enthusiasm for the project on the Microsoft Developer Blog stating, “We plan to continue our work with Ovamba, especially building an African dialect language recognition system to enable application localization and cater to the specific dialects of their customers”.

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