Cape Town AI was founded at the beginning of 2019 by two Dutch tech entrepreneurs, Pieter Boon and Koen Bonenkamp, from a strong belief that skilled AI developers can contribute to a better planet.
Working together with their clients to help improve their triple bottom line (People, Planet, Profit), Cape Town AI has three main aims for 2020:
- Establish South Africa as a global hub for AI talent
- Create economic opportunities in townships
- Contribute to projects that protect Africa’s wildlife
This year, their main focus has been to create a multi-disciplinary talent pool, and the company is continuously recruiting new talent. Cape Town AI also has a different approach to human resource development than most companies in South Africa.
Pieter Boon explains: “On Fridays our employees get time to train and develop themselves and learn from each other. They only work 4 days a week. We believe they are more productive and efficient that way, and have more fun!
This gives them time to focus on everything that is necessary for their own development and for their projects. They start in the morning by telling everybody what they will be doing for the day and in the afternoon they share what they have learned with the rest of the team. In this way everyone learns from each other and continues to grow their knowledge.”
On their reasons for choosing to establish the company in Cape Town, Pieter comments that Cape Town is one of the best places in the world to work and live, with the mountains, fresh air, good food, decent rental rates, close proximity to interesting places and the vibrant culture, especially in the tech startup field.
Forward thinking businesses are rapidly getting ready for AI. Cape Town AI helps companies to set up a data-driven business by identifying priorities and defining their AI and data strategy. A multi-disciplinary team – or data science squad – then works with the company to create a data science, artificial intelligence & cloud computing road map.
“We’ve also launched the in-house analytics academy concept, where we create an internal academy so that the company can train not only the technical people but also the people that need to make the translation in their business to an AI model. We strongly believe successful companies take an inclusive approach to AI; they are not focused on replacing jobs but on creating new business models and better services.”
Another initiative by the founders of Cape Town AI is Enlabeler, which is a company that offers data labeling services. While the core of its business is focused on labeling a company’s data, it is also focused on creating jobs in township communities around South Africa
The data labeling industry is growing at an enormous pace, and Enlabeler’s mission is to land these jobs in South African townships.
“Data labeling is a crucial factor in optimizing machine learning models and high volumes of data-labeling work will be needed for corporates and smaller companies to get the most out of their data science and ML efforts.” – Koen Bonenkamp, co-founder of Cape Town AI & Initiator of Enlabeler.
The idea is to create a new financial wealth for people in townships, allowing them to do the work on their mobile phones, eliminate the need to travel by taxi and at the same time also train them in the digital world.
Enlabeler CEO Esther Hoogstad explains: “South-Africa’s youth unemployment figures are rising, and it’s very hard to see that a lot of kids with a matric degree in their hands (high school certificate), often followed by relevant tertiary education, are not able to find a relevant job. Either by lack of social capital, experience or life circumstances – they find themselves in a ‘catch 22 situation’ which is hard to get out of.”
She explains further, “Enlabeler is aiming to create low-entry data-labeling jobs to (unemployed) young professionals in the Khayelitsha area (township outside of Cape Town). It’s important we make the effort to move out of the city, taking away the existing barriers and invite young professionals into our space.”
Not only has Cape Town AI a vision of creating jobs in South Africa’s townships, they are also passionate about using AI to protect Africa’s wildlife.
Cape Town AI partners with national parks and technology companies to fight poaching by using a deep learning approach to analyze (image) data to proactively identify poachers and animals that are in danger.
Learn more: CapeTownAI.com
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Cape Town is the undisputed DigiTech hub of Africa and a leading location for technology start-ups, venture capital deals and software companies. The City of Cape Town, including Stellenbosch, is now home to approximately 550 entrepreneurial enterprises that work in software development, e-commerce, information technology and many other DigiTech sectors.
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