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Hottest Tech Startups From Africa: BANDEKA.COM, Africa’s Answer To Online Dating!



Filed under : Africa, Entertainment

Happy Holidays all!

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Between sipping on some Egg-Nog, Christmas songs about mistletoe and the dreaded barrage of “ so….. when are you going to get married?” questions at family gatherings; you might be thinking to add LOVE to the top of your New Year’s Resolution’s List for 2012.

We’ve got just the way to jump start that aim: BANDEKA! Listed as one of Forbe’s hottest African tech startups, Bandeka is an invite-only online community for connecting well-educated, professional Africans all over the world.

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I joined the community to find Mr. Right Now TEST out the user experience. Honest! And I found it to have some very nice eye candy be a nice interface. *Ahem* Taking social networking to a literal level, Bandeka also hosts Social Mixers for users to mingle face-to-face (you couldn’t try that with Craigslist!). I also had the chance to ask Tunde Kehinde, one of the founders of Bandeka, a few questions about Bandeka:

Tunde Kehinde – Bandeka Co-Founder

FARAITODAY.COM: How exactly did the idea of Bandeka come about?

The idea to create a community with a platform that matches compatible people came when we, (Tunde and Yaw) were on a trip to India with friends during business school. The group kept commenting how they were not satisfied with the pool of singles they were meeting in their everyday life (bars, clubs, lounges, etc). What was interesting was that this sentiment was expressed by both men and women. We thought, if so many people are complaining about the same problem, many others must have the same issues and need a solution.

After exploring a few potential ideas, we decided to create a solution for Africans. First, we’re passionate about Africa so that was quite natural. Second, there aren’t many other communities focused exclusively on Africans. We believe there is a strong desire for Africans to meet and date others who share their cultures.

Yaw BoatengBandeka Co-Founder

FARAITODAY.COM: What was your family’s (esp. mom’s) reaction when you told them about Bandeka?

Haha. I’ll speak for myself. My mum smiled and told me she thought it was an interesting idea! I am grateful to have a family that supports me wholeheartedly in any endeavor I take on.

FARAITODAY.COM: How has Bandeka grown so far?

We have grown quite fast since our launch a bit over a month ago. In particular, Africans in the US and UK have joined Bandeka in much greater numbers. We held private invite-only mixers in London, New York City, Chicago, Boston, and Washington DC and have had a great turnout at each event. These events are a core part of what makes Bandeka unique – we don’t plan to be a passive online site;
our goal is to make sure our members meet one another in person as many times as possible.

New York City mixer

We are reaching out to more Africans on the continent and are hosting mixers in Lagos, Accra, Addis Ababa, and Kampala over the next few months. We are really excited about our growth prospects and think 2012 will be a big year for us!

FARAITODAY.COM: What can a new user expect from Bandeka? Any tips for Bandeka users?

At its simplest form, what is great about what we are doing is a new member can come on our platform and after performing a simple search, you can find another Ghanaian, Zimbabwean or someone from your country who lives in your city and ask this person who you never knew existed out for a coffee or a drink and start a new relationship or friendship.

We are working on a number of new features that will connect you with someone who speaks your language or may be from the same tribe. Additionally you have the opportunity to meet someone who comes from a completely different culture; a doctor who grew up in Zanzibar or an engineer who lives in Casablanca. We are excited about the opportunity to create a platform designed and tailored specifically to create more African connections.

I have 2 tips for Bandeka users. 1, invite as many of your friends as possible. The more friends you invite the stronger the connections you can make within the community. 2, sign on and message someone new today, it is a cool opportunity to meet that perfect person you never knew existed. And, if you’re not yet a member, go to www.bandeka.com and ask us for an invite!

*Some Bandeka eye candy* Tunde & Yaw are onto something….if I may say so myself!

FARAITODAY.COM: How do you define “success” with your startup, Bandeka?

When most Africans all around the world know about Bandeka, and every well educated African thinks of Bandeka as the best place to connect with other Africans– for conversations, for advice, for business, for friendships, or to find love—then we may say Bandeka has done quite well.

FARAITODAY.COM: Are you aware of any successful matchups through Bandeka? Has it been successful for you personally?

Haha. Yes! Success meaning Yaw, Afua and I have met some amazing Africans so far. Who knows if these relationships will develop into something romantic in the future but at the very least we have expanded our circle of friends. We just launched a few weeks ago so no marriages just yet (not that we know off at least haha), but we have gotten great feedback from our members who say they have met exceptional Africans online as well as at our mixers. Many of the folks who attended our NYC and Chicago mixers were surprised they met so many Africans they had never met before even though they’d all lived in those cities for several years.

There’s a growing awareness/interest in the potential of Africa both from within the continent and outside, what are your thoughts on the potential of tech startups in Africa?

There are a number of things happening simultaneously that make it a super exciting time for tech startups in Africa! Governments and the private sector are investing in infrastructure that will improve internet speed and bandwidth.

Multinationals like google are bringing world-class technology expertise to the continent and entrepreneurs are working so solve some really big problems in healthcare, politics, payments and just simply connecting our people together.

All of this is coming at a perfect time for Africa’s really young population who are looking to technology to help them connect with each other, consume information and communicate their views on a wide range of issues.

There is still a lot of work to be done and we need a stronger ecosystem to help fund start-ups but the future is bright!

Need I say more…go to Bandeka!

So whether you’re setting P from Lagos, Nigeria trying to holla in Cape Town, South Africa or network in New York City, U.S.A, be sure to check out Bandeka. Email them for an invite and connect with them on FaceBook and Twitter.

Follow me on Twitter: @demimoiselle

FaraiToday Staff – who has written posts on Farai Today.


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