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How a Cameroonian IT Startup is Changing the Image of IT and Providing Job Opportunities in Africa.

AfroVisioN Group’s modest office in Molyko, Buea (South West Region of Cameroon), is reflective of its president’s personality.  He is relaxed, wearing a shirt, pair of jeans and sneakers, and he immediately strikes me as one of those young entrepreneurs, whom Nathan Heller describes as being more interested in showing that they can act imaginatively, with conspicuously noble ethics, rather than flaunting how much they earn.

Churchill Nanje Mambe started AfroVisioN Group in 2006 and has been writing code since 2004, but it wasn’t until he built Njorku.com in 2011 that he became known in Africa and the world, and was profiled on Forbes. Today, Njorku is a fast growing career and recruitment platform for Africans, which retrieves pages and job advertisements, thus providing a simple interface for job seekers to search through and filter jobs from all these websites within seconds.

“I never saw this coming,” he tells me, because now, Njorku receives CVs from people who live in the Philippines, Bangladesh, China, Mexico, Pakistan, Hungary and many other countries, and all these people want to work in Africa. Currently, Njorku serves seven African countries (Cameroon, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, South Africa and Egypt), but Churchill’s immediate goal is to expand across the continent.

AfroVisioN Group, was one of Buea’s first tech enterprises and responsible for a number of innovations. It provides various services, the most prominent being enterprise apps, mobile apps, and website development. In 2011, it built an enterprise app for Adamawa State in Nigeria, which helps track the profiles of all the government employees in that state. It has even built an enterprise web app for Chelsea FC which helps track the performance of under-seventeen students in the football academy. The project was done in partnership with a Canadian firm which had the contract.

In the past eight months, AfroVisioN Group has been involved in a wealth of different initiatives. Notably it has built over twenty-five small sites for real estate agents in Nigeria in partnership with a company called Private Property – privateproperty.com.ng , and another site, Sgbeats.com, a music portal which helps sell music in Nigeria.

Yet as far back as 2006, Churchill believed that Buea would be like Silicon Valley. Now he is twenty-eight and Buea is inundated with IT startups, some of which include Zinger Systems, Zone wireless , Wasamundi, Camer Bills, Fee Perfect, Pursar.com and King Maker among others.  Many of these entrepreneurs have experience working with AfroVisioN Group and some had been incubated by Activ Spaces, which is a tech incubator that uses technology to solve the country’s problems by providing business accelerator programs. The fact that Buea has been chosen to host the annual BarCamp is indicative that the town has grown in stature and is now a town to reckon with.

BarCamp Cameroon is the biggest annual gathering of passionate individuals from all fields of the digital and technology society: entrepreneurs, enthusiasts, bloggers, journalists, activists and students. It’s a meeting of forward-thinking minds coming together to discuss the myriad opportunities and challenges faced in this technological era. The theme of this year’s BarCamp is “Made in Cameroon”, and it aims at showcasing the great innovative projects and startups in Cameroon as well as creating discussions for new projects and entrepreneurship.

Churchill considers Njorku to be a human resource technology hub rather than a business, and his dream is for Njorku to cover the whole of the continent offering a true career and recruitment platform for all Africans. At present Njorku has about one million records and is able to search through these and get the best ten jobs for any given keyword and location within a fragment of a second.

This means a startup like Njorku could change the lives of individuals in Africa in the same way LinkedIn is helping people around the world. And increasing unemployment rates in African countries leaves little doubt that this is a very valuable service. Maybe once again tech is helping provide the ultimate solution to a much greater problem?

 

Dzekashu MacViban is a freelance journalist and has written for the Ann Arbor Review of Books, Fashizblack, Goethe.de, and PalaPala among others.

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Dzekashu MacViban

Dzekashu MacViban is a freelance journalist and has written for the Ann Arbor Review of Books, Fashizblack, Goethe.de, and PalaPala among others.

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