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Thursday, 29 May 2014

South African Entrepreneur Behind Aweza, a Free Multilingual App, Says He Taught Himself How to Build a Mobile App

Meet Glenn Stein, the 25-year-old South African entrepreneur behind Aweza, a free multilingual app for Android and iOS that translates phrases in all of South Africa’s 11 official languages. The app currently contains about 400 common phrases which can be translated into a selected South African language. The idea came to him while he was studying at college and wanted to create something that would overcome the language barriers that divides South Africans.

“We have a huge divide socially even though apartheid is 20 years past. There are still issues of segregation, just from a cultural point and I think language is an intrinsic part of culture. It is also, unfortunately, the hardest issue to tackle because to learn a language takes a lot of effort, dedication and time,” he says. But my dream comes from the idea that there was some tool that could really help to break down that language barrier and shrink the gap between 2 South Africans that come from 2 completely different cultures; to allow them to connect easier and facilitate this engagement.

Stein is also the co-founder of Speak Mobile, a company that builds apps. It is responsible for MediPhrases, another app that works similarly to Aweza, but is aimed at the medical profession. Its purpose is to help doctors communicate better with their patients across language barriers. According to Stein, the internet is one of the most valuable tools an entrepreneur has and can help them to do, or build, almost anything. “I taught myself how to build a mobile app purely through the internet. It has nothing to do with how smart you are, but rather how much time you are willing to put in to acquire the knowledge, and that is really all it takes.”

His advice to aspiring tech entrepreneurs is not waste too much time trying to conceptualise the perfect product. “Just build something, just go and freaking build it. Sometimes it is not the product that matters at all; it’s the process you underwent in getting to its realisation. Going through that process is the most insightful learning experience I have ever been through – from conceptualisation to execution, and launching to the market."

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