Friday, August 22, 2014
Two young Eastern Cape entrepreneurs, Sabelo Sibanda (30) and Thulilsile Volwana (22), from Walmer, Port Elizabeth – who are both part of the Shanduka Black Umbrellas programme to help emerging businesses – have come up with an answer to help alleviate areas that have intermittent access to electricity.
They have created the Millbug Vuya Tablet PC, a solar powered tablet PC that will help users who may not have access to electricity or who suffer from power outages.
Sibana and Volwana understand the industry and through their company, Millbug, they conceived the tablet.
The tablet will retail for no more than R1499.99 to ensure that it is within reach of its intended users.
Millbug, which concentrates on technology hardware and web development, believes that the Vuya Tablet PC will allow for greater participation of Africans in the digital economy. Less than one percent of content online is created by Africans, they say, and this alarming statistic needs urgent attention. “Instead of celebrating the rise of the African consumer, this device seeks to catalyse the rise of the African producer,” they add.
Thulilsile Volwana (23) is an Economics graduate at NMMU and Sabelo Sibanda (30) is an MBA student at the Edinburgh Business School at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland.
Millbug was registered in April 2012 and it came about through a chance meeting with Fred Roed, of World Wide Creative who made them aware of the opportunities in technology and, more specifically, the vast opportunities in South Africa.
The Vuya Tablet PC is described as “a rugged, yet aesthetically pleasing tablet that effortlessly runs on the Android 4.4 KitKat operating system.”
Vuya means “be happy” in isiXhosa and it is the intention of the Millbug Vuya Tablet to bring happiness to those that need it the most. For this reason, this tablet has a 1.2 GHz processor, 512 MB of RAM, 4 GB of storage a photovoltaic (solar) power source as well as the ability to be charged using USB or a conventional power outlet.
Volwana and Sibanda joined the Shanduka Black Umbrellas incubation programme which helps budding entrepreneurs and small businesses because it offered a firm like theirs unprecedented opportunities to make a contribution to society: “The educational, networking and business incentives are second to none and they have a proud history of enviable achievements,” they say.
Millbug’s clients are spread out all over the country, providing web and app development services. “We have built some fantastic relationships around the continent with regard to our hardware innovations,” says Sibanda.
The company employs a team of 10 “Performance Partners” around the country who work as agents.
Sibanda and Volwana see their business becoming the leading mobile solutions company in Africa by 2020 – and this is their goal.
Asked how their company differed from others in the field, they said: “Besides constant innovation through our practices as a learning organisation, we believe that mobile has changed the face of Africa and it is now the time for Africa to change the face of mobile. This focus on developing proprietary solutions in our niche has helped us stand out from the crowd.”
The men say they are inspired by their clients “because everything we do is done proactively to solve problems they may face. We exist because clients trust us to make their lives better and that's as good a reason as any to enjoy getting out of bed at 5 am every morning.”
Their message to other people who want to start their own businesses is that entrepreneurship is “by far one of the most difficult exercises one can possibly undertake. It takes great commitment, sacrifice and an incalculable amount of guts. That said, there is no more rewarding endeavour for anyone who wants to make their dent in the universe.”
They add: “We would love to work with everybody who would like to see the African continent reach its full potential. Together we can!”