In Dar es Salaam, about 70-80 young ICT entrepreneurs meet every first Monday of the month to talk about their ideas, new projects and trends on global markets. They are part of a global open community – MobileMonday – which brings together industry visionaries, developers and influential individuals with the aim of fostering cooperation and cross-border business development through virtual and live networking events.
There is a range of applications which are designed to extend the services of money transfer apps (M-Pesa) for paying electricity, water and cable TV bills and other SMS-based applications such as job vacancy alerts. All over Africa, mobile technologies are widely used for money transfers, health services and location mapping. SMS4life in Tanzania and Ushahidi in Kenya are two of the most popular examples.
The MoMo network
MoMo chapters are active in more than 107 cities worldwide and continue to launch new locations monthly. In 2007, the number of groups swelled to over fifty and new groups are being launched all the time. Since the summer of 2006, over 60 locations have already seen successful launches. In 2010, there were launches in various African countries, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Palestine.
The remarkable MoMo phenomenon began almost by accident in Helsinki, Finland, during the chilly autumn of 2000. Vesa-Matti ‘Vesku’ Paananen, a well-known Finnish mobile visionary, invited more than fifty mobile innovators to an Irish pub for an informal get-together and perhaps a warming drink. The only suitable time was Monday evening.
After meeting many new faces and discussing the latest developments in mobility, the group decided to continue meeting on the first Monday of each month – and MoMo was born. Tokyo and Silicon Valley were the first groups to be established outside Finland in the autumn of 2004.
How MoMo works
Unlike technical bodies or regulatory taskforces, MoMo is focused more on private and social entrepreneurship in the mobile ecosystem, and helps start-ups air their concerns and find partners with the larger private sector and government agencies in the mobile space.
The overall aim is to grow the entire mobile ecosystem in the country, bring value to national industry players and individual citizens, and provide local start-ups with global opportunities.
The MoMo concept is a kind of ‘open source forum’, a counter-force to other existing organisations. Most industry associations drive very important industry initiatives, but their challenge lies in integrating those initiatives with the community beyond their member representatives. Individuals participating in our events and discussion groups do so because of their personal interest and not because it is their duty as a company representative. Which is why the meetings are more informal, fun, and also valuable on a personal level.