It is often said that a lack of rules will lead to chaos / anarchy. So when rules are set, they are expected to be / should be followed more by those who set the rules. So I have to say I was shocked and stunned when Safaricom’s Appwiz Challenge seemed to break the rules they set for themselves.

In case you were wondering what I’m referring to, let me break it down for you. The Safaricom Appwiz Challenge is a partnership between Safaricom and the University of Strathmore. It aims to nurture and mentor ICT driven and mobile technology driven startups. The 3rd edition of this challenge was launched last July. Part of the terms and conditions of the challenge was a requirement that participants MUST to be Kenyan citizens over 18 years old, participants must register for the challenge in groups of no more than three members.

The contest finally ended and the winners were announced on 1st December 2015 and Lynk were declared big winners and were the recipients of the 1.5 million award. Lynk is a mobile solution that provides a platform for people in the informal sector to meet potential employers and search for employment opportunities. It’s supposed to be a creation of Adam Grunewald, Erick Obiero and Sharon Macharia. However, a look at their List of angels page, Adam Grunewald and Johannes Degn who are not Kenyans, are listed as the founders with Erick Obiero and Moses Ndungu listed as employees. Also note that Sharon Macharia is nowhere to be found because apparently she was fired while the competition was underway.

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By the time Lynk won the challenge, Adam Grunewald and Johannes Degn were still listed on Lynk’s site as founders with Kenyans nowhere to be found. When they were questioned about this by @WanjikuClara they quickly updated their site to include Kenyans, but this time without their designation. Note that Sharon Macharia, who is said to be a co-founder, is still nowhere to be found.

These guys seem to have been in such a rush that they forgot to change Johannes Degn’s name from the company profile they submitted to Safaricom.


What is evident is that Lynk is clearly not a Kenyan company for the purposes of the Safaricom Appwiz challenge and Kenyans were only added later in an effort to make them eligible for the Safaricom competition. We have contacted Safaricom about this and they have released the following statement.

“In accordance with our declared rules for the Appwiz competition, our jury was assured that two members of the company – Erick Obiero and Sharon Macharia – are Kenyan citizens. The company has thus satisfied our conditions for participation in the competition. Safaricom remains keen to support Kenya’s growing innovation ecosystem and we hope that our participation in these initiatives will continue to benefit more emerging entrepreneurs. – Joe Ogutu, Director, Strategy and Innovation.

According to the rules of the competition, these guys were not eligible to compete ab initio, making their victory null and void. Still in terms and conditions number 5, it clearly states that “Safaricom reserves the right to require participants to prove that they are eligible. If the winner of the grant is deemed ineligible, Safaricom reserves the right to award the grant to another participant and to require the return of any grant already awarded ”. We hope Safaricom will do the right thing and reward the legitimate winners.

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