There’s a new app in town. And no, it has got nothing to do with farming or money matters. Comrades from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology have created an app which simply talks about sex. SophieBot, described as ‘Siri for Sexual Information’, is an intelligent system which stores information about sex and reproductive health. Users can interact with this information by chatting anonymously with other users.
Irving Amukasa, Derrick Murithi, and Chogo Beverly Mutindi met through the I.AM initiative, a programme sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund to encourage the youth to talk about sex.
The trio got seed funding, and began a four-month incubation period at the Nailab to improve the app performance.
According to Irving, CEO of SophieBot, “The app needs no information from you; no sign up. You simply install and start. Rather than talk to another person about sex, just go to the app,” he explains.
“Sex is a taboo subject in our culture,” says Beverly, the company’s Business Developer, “but this does not mean it should not be talked about and our aim is to destroy the barriers that prevent young people from asking questions about sex. With Sophie, there is no judgment.”
It has not been easy for the creators of Sophie, balancing academics with their project. Irving has had to defer his Actuarial Science degree.
As for Beverly, the incubation coincided with her exams, forcing her to operate on no sleep for the whole period. But it has been worth it.
The other big challenge has been taking the app to the mext level.
In its current state, Sophie has to be updated manually; the team manually go through chat logs, to respond respond to questions Sophie missed and to update the database. This is the next step for SophieBot.
Asked whether they are concerned about children reading inappropriate content, the team seems convinced that not confronting sexual issues is far worse.