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Moraa finds niche in software development

By | July 28th 2011

Hilda Moraa has just graduated from Strathmore University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management and IT.

Despite her sterling grades and IT skills, Moraa knows only too well that securing a decent job will not be a walk in the park.But to her, that is not the end of the road. Moraa has chosen a path less traveled — that of software development.

Today, she is minting money from a mobile phone application she developed.

Moraa, 23, is the brain behind m-order, a mobile phone application built to bridge the gap between distributors and retailers in a supply chain.

Hilda Moraa has chosen a path less traveled — that of software development.

The application makes it simple for businesses to accept orders and deliver products and services to their clients.

"M-order is a mobile phone application that allows one to order for a commodity without having to go physically to the distribution centre to order," says Moraa.

"This allows clients to benefit from a quick and efficient ordering process."

M-order is a real-time mobile ordering application that can be deployed in different markets. The application works on any phone from the low-end phones to smart phones.

Last year, the application was voted the best in a mobile boot camp competition held in Nairobi at the Strathmore University Grounds.

The boot camp allowed participants to gain insight on mobile computing technologies as well as acquire practical skills in the use of current platforms, frameworks and tools used for the development of mobile applications.

Moraa says the application seeks to change the supply chain system in a fast-paced environment.

"We needed a solution that brings efficiency in the processes involved in supply chain system," she says.

One is able to use the application by registering their details (names and mobile phone number) through any hand-held mobile device.

"When any registered user provides their location, a list of commodities in the store appears on the screen," she explains.

"From the list, one selects items they need and the order would be reflected on the supplier’s end.

This activates communication between the demand and supply."

"Clients are billed per use, partly aimed at helping rope in both Small and Medium Enterprises and multinational companies," she says.

Moraa has since partnered with two other entrepreneurs to improve on the application’s technical and marketing aspects.

Under the arrangement, M-order is now a registered product of Wezesha Ltd.

The number of mobile phone users in Kenya stands at about 25 million.

Leading mobile phone manufacturers Nokia and Samsung have said they would start offering handsets with locally relevant applications or content as a strategy to boost the penetration.

This move puts Moraa and her partners in good stead while her classmates are stil job hunting.

"With more developers coming on board with market relevant content, we are looking into long-term partnerships with local developers to improve our offering to the market," said Samsung Electronics East Africa Business Leader, Robert Ngeru.

"There is a growing trend in business application downloads by individual consumers and small and medium-sized companies," he said.

He said the new content would be generated for the Android/BADA smartphone and tablet users and in turn contribute to the local software ecosystem.

Nokia noted that the Mobile application marketing is a rapidly growing engagement and advertising channel for local and international brands today.

"Increase in use of apps by young population and emerging middle-class is stirring an unprecedented growth, which may help companies focus on more eye-balls of their target markets in a totally new dimension," said Kenneth Oyolla, General Manager, Nokia East and Southern Africa.

Nokia has made a big leap with cumulative downloads in Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, crossing the one billion mark in March 2011 from Ovi Store.

Consumers are also downloading 500,000 apps daily in the MEA region, indicating the explosion in use of mobile apps.

According to Agatha Gikunda, Head of Solutions Sales, Nokia East and Southern Africa, local downloads from Ovi Store have grown from two apps in April 2010 to over 200 currently — a 9,900 per cent increase.

Two of the local apps have already passed the over 100,000 downloads mark.

Thanks to the applications, consumers can browse and purchase content from Ovi Store in more than 190 countries through credit-card billing.

Over 100 operators in 29 countries support integrated mobile billing with Ovi Store and about 90 per cent of the daily traffic to Ovi Store converts to downloads.

But these opportunities present critical challenges in East Africa. Mobile applications are relatively new and few in East Africa where smartphones are just beginning to reach a significant number of users.

This is the gap Moraa and Co hope to fill.


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