Visionary creator of mobile phone edu-tainment for young Africans
Founder & CEO of AFROES Transformational Games
Country: South Africa
Sector: Education Technology
Anne Githuku-Shongwe is founder and Chief Executive Officer of Afroes Transformational Games - a company that builds mobile game-based learning platforms out of South Africa and Kenya. Anne's vision is to revolutionise learning in Africa with a focus on delivering positive Africa-focused mobile phone entertainment to the youth market across the continent.
Anne is an acclaimed public speaker on topics related to Social Innovation for the Public Good and Edu-tech and her past speaking engagements include TEDx Soweto; PICNIC, Amsterdam; Netexplo, Paris; Frontiers in Development, Washington DC; Games for Change, New York; Mobile Web Africa and East Africa; Africom and many more. Anne has also been recognised as one of the 15 Social Entrepreneurs of the Year, 2013 by Schwab Foundation/World Economic Forum; and was a Cartier Women's Initiative 2010 finalist.
Anne's Startup Story
Back in 2008, Anne Githuku-Shongwe had one of those epiphanies in life that saw her end an illustrious 13-year career with the United Nations Development Programme to start an interactive digital media company. At the time, many of her colleagues thought she’d lost her mind. One of them even made a bet with her to the sum of $1 000 that she would be back at her UN desk within six months. Needless to say, that colleague lost the bet. Her motivation to succeed with her new venture was far more powerful, as her vision was to startup a company that could deliver positive Africa-focused mobile phone entertainment to young people across the continent.
Anne’s company, Afroes (the name comes from a play on the words African Heroes and Heroines), was inspired by conversations with her own children. She worried that they weren’t being exposed to any positive African media content and that their ideas and aspirations for Africa were being influenced by the Western media’s pervasively negative messages about the continent. She wanted to do something to change that. But it was whilst she observed her son excitedly started relating things he’d learned while playing the computer game, Civilisations, that she realised children who play computer games are a captive audience for anything you want to teach them. She knew from that point onwards that she needed to harness the power of computer games to deliver positive messages to African children.
At LoA, we applaud the sheer determination and vision of one woman social entrepreneur to harness the power of mobile technology to positively impact on young people’s lives in Africa, and they way they interact with and help to shape their futures on the continent. Anne Githuku-Shongwe is a real inspiration and shows that individuals really can change the world. She is a wonderful example of a Lioness of Africa. --- Melanie Hawken, LoA founder and editor-in-chief
What sparked the idea for Afroes?
Watching her own children playing video games gave her the inspiration she had been looking for --- “I realised kids who play computer games are a captive audience for anything you want to teach them, .... I knew there had to be a way to harness computer games to deliver positive messages to African children.”
Afroes’ mission is --- "to inspire the conversations and actions of youth across Africa with a message of possibility and pride".
“If Afroes was to be successful it would have to use mobile phones, the true medium of the masses, to deliver its games,” -- the market was certainly there -- Africa has the highest mobile growth rate in the world, with South Africa alone counting 6,3 million users aged between 10 and 24."
“I’m no techno-geek and I had to learn everything there was to know about computer games and how to tailor them for mobile phones so that they still delivered great graphics. They also had to be low-cost enough for African children to afford and then there was the challenge of how to make them easily accessible,”
Awards & Accolades
Anne's recent awards and honours include:
- 2013 - Anne is recognised as one of the 15 Social Entrepreneurs of the Year, by the Schwab Foundation/World Economic Forum
- 2010 - Anne is a finalist in the Cartier Women's Initiative