About Us

Praekelt Foundation builds open source, scalable mobile technologies and solutions to improve the health and wellbeing of people living in poverty. Our programmes have reached over 50 million people across 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Our History

Praekelt Foundation was founded in early 2007 by Gustav Praekelt and Robin Miller in response to the opportunities created by the rapid and unprecedented spread of mobile phones across Africa. Gustav, a digital entrepreneur and obsessive technologist, saw how many of the mobile technologies his consultancy developed could be used to give communities access to services & information which had previously been inaccessible.

Our Opportunity

"The digital divide is beginning to close. The flow of digital information through mobile phones, text messaging, and the Internet is now reaching the world's masses, even in the poorest countries, bringing with it a revolution in economics, politics, and society." Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University

Extreme poverty almost always goes hand in hand with extreme isolation, but mobile technologies and services have the capacity to end all forms of extreme isolation, becoming the most transformative technology of economic and social development.

Mobile phone technology has proved so powerful and the benefits so compelling that there are now more than 450 million mobile phones in Africa, almost one for every two people on the continent. And mobile penetration is rising sharply.

Ubiquitous in villages as well as cities, mobile phones do more than just provide a means for people to communicate with each other, however. The rural poor in more and more of the world now have access to wireless banking and payment systems, such as Kenya's famous M-Pesa system. Farmers can connect directly through mobile phones, enabling them to sell their crops at higher rates and without delay, while buyers can move those crops to markets faster and more efficiently, resulting in less spoilage and lower prices for final consumers. And this is just the beginning. The services carried on the new mobile networks and platforms span public health, medical care, education, banking, commerce, entertainment and governance. Working together with NGOs, governments and social organisations we have an opportunity to build a shared network to develop, host and deliver these transformative services to the people who most need them.

Our Approach

Praekelt Foundation's aim is to create the next generation of mobile services for the developing world by developing scalable, open source, mobile technologies that will allow a myriad of applications to be built and deployed.

Our mobile technology solutions are:

  • Robust enough to meet the challenges of emerging markets
  • Open source and continually under development
  • Scalable, flexible and cost-effective
  • Designed to facilitate dialogue between audiences and service providers

Our Team

With over 25 years of experience in digital and mobile development, we are passionate about contributing to the developing world and becoming a leading mobile technology innovator.

Gustav Praekelt - Founder

Gustav Praekelt is the managing director of Praekelt Digital. After completing his B.Sc. in Computer Science and Philosophy, he co-founded one of the first digital interactive studios in Africa and was its technical director for 10 years. His belief in the power of mobile phones to transform Africa inspired him to establish the Praekelt Foundation in 2006. A passionate advocate of the idea that technology should be available to all Gustav is a frequent speaker at a variety of international conferences, including Poptech and TEDx.

Marcha Neethling - Head of Operations

Passionate about people and development, Marcha holds a Masters Degree in HIV/AIDS Management and has more than ten years experience working for South African and international NGOs in the development sector in Africa. Since joining Praekelt Foundation in 2008 Marcha has been responsible for implementing multi-national campaigns in partnerships with NGOs and governments. A relative newcomer to the world of mobile technology, Marcha has quickly become an enthusiastic advocate for its potential to produce real change in Africa.

Simon de Haan - Chief Engineer

Growing up in the Middle East left an indelible impression on Simon and sparked a passionate interest in community development, entrepreneurship and technology. After completing a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Media Technology in the Netherlands Simon worked for several prominent digital agencies before being appointed CTO of a promising Internet startup in Amsterdam. The potential to be directly involved in the use of technology to improve the lives of the less privileged proved irresistible, however, and Simon moved to South Africa to focus on community development work in 2009.

Join Our Team