By Bertil van Vugt on June 18, 2011
Every month the VC4Africa team places a new venture in the spotlights. Now we will meet Matt Toplis, the co-founder of AfricanBrains.
Please tell us about your venture?
“AfricanBrains is an intelligent social network where African innovators can come together and turn their ideas into commercial reality. AfricanBrains is also a news and blog site specializing in stories relating to African education, innovation, science and technology across the continent and beyond. See www.africanbrains.net. AfricanBrains was formed in 2009 and is self-funded by the Directors John Glassey and myself.”
Who is your target audience and why?
“Our target audience is twofold: Firstly students, graduates, post grads & researchers in Africa who have the ideas and secondly the local & international corporations who wish to realize the potential of those innovators. As far as the news and blog is concerned our target audience is anyone who wishes to keep up to date with the latest African education, innovation, science and technology stories.”
When did you get this idea and why is it unique?
“John Glassey had the idea a couple of years earlier while working with computer programming students in Nairobi; realizing they had the standard of education of any Western university student but not the opportunities when they qualified.
AfricanBrains is unique for two main reasons. Firstly as a networking site we have a feature whereby members can submit their ideas for commercial development to the AfricanBrains assessment team; and secondly because we introduce and mentor the African innovators in their potential relationships with commercial developers right up until the point of negotiating and closing the deal on their behalf.”
What are the key milestones achieved to date?
“A restructuring of the website to incorporate the Word Press and Buddy Press platform, achieving 10,000 visitor per month and organizing the inaugural African Education Summit in July 2011.
The African Education Summit is a landmark event aimed at directly improving the quality of education with a particular focus on increasing investment and access to technology. We have an impressive array of speakers including Dr Cheick Diarra, the Chairman of Microsoft Africa; Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, the Chief Executive of NEPAD and a large number of Ministers of Education and Higher Education from all over Africa.”
What are you expecting from placing your venture on the VC4Africa website?
“To attract capital investors to take AfricanBrains to the next level on the road to establishing the website as the de facto standard for education and innovation in Africa. We are also keen for bloggers and writers to contribute with news stories and articles on education, innovation, science, technology & ICT across Africa. Although our guest posts at present are unpaid, we grant our guest writers a free delegate place to any of our events, our next one being The African Education Summit (worth £1,350). We will also provide an author profile, biography and link to writer’s own website or blog.”
Have you spoken to possible investors or other parties that are interested in your idea yet?
“We are always looking for interested parties wishing to partner and become commercial developers for the ideas that are submitted. We are also interested in companies wishing to reach a wider audience by advertising their African education and technology brands on our website.”
How can members contact you?
“They can contact me though VC4Africa or directly by email on matt.toplis [at] africanbrains.org. Also via our “contact us” page. If members wish to write for AfricanBrains and receive free delegate places for our events please visit our website and fill in the online form.”