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Orion

by Shiro Wachira

Hello again!

As is the often the case in the world of startup, we come back from a short silence with many exciting updates to report. We’d like to thank all of you for your continued support and look forward to continued partnership in what promise to be an exciting few months!

Expansion into the MENA region

We are most excited to announce that our plan to achieve world domination is well under way! After Evanna spoke at a conference in Tunisia, g.Maarifa received great client as well as investor interest in the MENA region, once more demonstrating the power of a good idea. Consequently, we plan to pilot Orion in Jordan this Fall, and move into the Tunisian market soon thereafter.

The booming MENA consumer mobile market is a very exciting space to be in given remarkable government enthusiasm as well as speedy sales cycles: we are very enthusiastic about scoping out this space and the opportunity to establish g.Maarifa in other emerging markets.

East Africa Update

This is not to say that we are leaving our East African supporters behind! In fact, we are still actively pursuing clients here in Kenya, and interest in g.Maarifa from this region seems to only be growing. Evanna has had weeks with daily client meetings, so we can be sure that she’s earning her keep! One this front, we are happy to welcome our newest client, Living Goods, to the g.Maarifa family and are eager to launch their pilot later this month.

Orion Strategy

We also have a couple of updates on our Orion strategy. As you know, we pivoted our focus to this platform earlier this year and have narrowed down that focus even further. We have decided to work primarily with clients working in 3 sectors: healthcare, financial services, and consumer packaged goods.  We will however continue to work with a range of organization types including: non-profits, large multinationals, and government organizations, among others.

Finally, the promised updates to our website have been uploaded (check it out!) and we look forward to sharing more of our journey with you!

Dear awesome supporters,

It has been a whirlwind since we updated you last! Not only have we crisscrossed the world a few times to meet with supporters but we have also been feverishly working on the launch of our new product, Orion.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

The last time we touched base, we told you that we were in the middle of our pilot testing for our proprietary product (job training, evaluation, and placement). We finished our pilot testing in September to great success! Though the technology was finicky in the first week, by the beginning of the second, we had stabilized the tech and began to add new features based on user feedback and back-end necessities. Overall, 32% of the students were placed in jobs and achieved a 30+ point gain in knowledge in entrepreneurship and professional etiquette. 100% of students strongly agree or agree with the statement that “I am more confident in my job seeking and creation skills because of the knowledge I have garnered from my course with g.Maarifa.” If you are interested in the entire results of the pilot, please don’t hesitate to email Evanna at evanna@gmaarifa.com

Right after the pilot, Andrew and I flew back to the US and did a tour talking to supporters and potential investors and clients. Evanna spoke in front of Engineers Without Borders on behalf of g.Maarifa. From Chicago to New York to San Francisco, we received positive feedback and great enthusiasm for our products. Some of the negotiations are ongoing and hush-hush but we will keep you in the loop as soon as we get the disclosure OK!

Secondly, we are in the process of rolling out our new product, Orion. Because we already have an interactive SMS platform, we figured that it would be a lot more beneficial to license it out to NGOs and other institutions in developing markets who need to reach their own end users, most of whom are bottom of the pyramid, with their own content. Orion is our white label customization platform which means that we work with clients to customize their content, questions, and analytics and then deliver the content and evaluation questions to their end users.

Already we are working with two multinational social enterprise clients on reaching more than 700,000 end users by February, 2013 (contracts worth millions of dollars). One is using Orion to do entrepreneurship training in five provinces in Kenya and another is using Orion to remote-train their field staff and to educate clients on micro-insurance. We are super stoked to work and support them!

Lastly, you might have noticed that we changed our logo and design. Thanks to our awesome volunteer designer and web guru, Youn, we will also be getting a new website which will be launched next month. The website will include a simulation of our tech so folks outside of East Africa can also experience it.

The last few months have been hectic as we finally made the decision to shift our focus to Orion from our proprietary product, Sophia, and as we did our prelim round of fundraising. We are especially grateful for your support which continues to keep us inspired in building this business.

Best,

Evanna and Andrew