Zindi gathers data scientists for AI services

Artificial intelligence is quite popular these days. It also has many benefits for businesses. That is why Zindi is assembling the data scientists in Africa to get AI solutions for difficult problems. This startup was founded in 2018 and it allows companies or NGOs to start data-oriented online competitions.

Zindi’s platform also contains many data scientists from Africa who can enroll in a competition. They can give solutions to the problems and move up in the challenge. They also have the opportunity to win the challenge. The startup’s co-founder, Celina Lee states that the highest money given so far is $12,000, which was split among the three best scientists. The competition hosts get the results, which they can use to make or promote new products and services.

Zindi’s model has caught the eye of many multinational companies, both inside and outside Africa. For example, Digital infrastructure company Liquid Telecom has started many competitions. Just this week, the startup announced a partnership with Microsoft because the company wants the computing service Azure to power Zindi’s platform.

Microsoft will also host two competitions. The focus in these competitions will be to find solutions in African agtech. Ugandan IoT accelerator, Wazihub, has put forward a challenge to all the Zindi’s data scientists to make an AI model that predicts humidity. There is also a $10,000 challenge for the Cape Town startup FarmPin. The challenge is to formulate the best solution to classify the fields according to the crop type. The contestants can use mobile phones and satellite imagery.

Celina Lee thinks that there is a need for a team of data scientists in Africa, who should solve the complex problems in the private and public sector. She also states, “African companies, organizations, and governments require digitization and technology now, more than ever. There is also an interest to use things like AI and machine learning to find solutions to the problems.” Lee also stated that around 80% of Zindi’s competitions have a social angle.

Lee notes that there is a big shortage of data scientists on the platform, “Very few people have data science skills. Still, companies are looking for ways to incorporate science and AI. However, there are a large number of young Africans in universities. They are looking to build their professional careers and polish their skills. Therefore, we need to take advantage of this opportunity.”

As the company is a startup, Zindi has only six members in its Cape Town office. Lee co-founded the company, along with Ghanaian Ekow Dukerand and South African Megan Yates. Although the company is small, it hopes to get around 10,000 data scientists on its platform this year. Lee also wants to get 20,000 data scientists by the end of 2020.

Lee’s goal right now is to expand the company to every country in Africa. Lee also thinks that Zindi will expand itself to additional African countries by the end of this year. Currently, Zindi hosts online competitions and data scientists, from any country within Africa.

Zindi gets its funding from undisclosed investors. The startup is also thinking to start a funding round. The startup also gets money from by taking some fee from hosting competitions. It is also looking to give new opportunities to data scientists. Lee states that this could be a source of revenue in the future.

Zindi’s emerging model is going to fit it into the present businesses in Africa. For example, when Zindi gives recruitment services, it might offer a service similar to Andela, which is a talent accelerator.

Lee has also disclosed that the company is getting inbound partnership interest from reliable firms. This means that the startup is getting popular. Lee said, “We are somewhat disruptive because we are giving companies in Africa the best data scientists.”

The startup could also provide data solutions and data scientists to the companies and organizations who don’t have enough resources to go to big firms. Therefore, this indicates that Zindi’s market will grow in the coming years.