Iris in Africa

What We Do

Polorum is solving the problem of mass communication in rural Africa using the technology in people’s pockets – the mobile phone. Where traditional infrastructure is lacking, mobile usage in Africa is on the rise. We see this as an opportunity to create a speedy, cost-effective channel through which locals, NGOs and public services can deliver the messages they need over isolated, spread out populations. Over 40,000 phone numbers can be stored in our system, which sends out regular texts to all the mobile phones in a community. Run by locals for locals, our system is sustainable because its messages are trusted.

Polorum will enable communications that can:

Save Lives
In the event of an emergency or disaster, rapid communications spread awareness and help locals protect themselves.
Useful messages to give families a hand, from healthy recipes to first aid.
Boost Local Economies
Basic advertising services can help locals increase productivity and expand small businesses.

The System

  • Is cheap and easy to use.
  • Runs without internet or mains electricity.
  • Fits into pre-existing infrastructure.
  • Protects data by design.
Need support? We can provide the technical expertise and training to get the system up and running in a community so information can be transmitted in seconds, rather than months.

Oonagh & Helen

About Us

When Oonagh Mannix travelled to East Africa in 2014, she witnessed first-hand how difficult it was for the local hospital to send messages out to the community. The previous year’s typhoid epidemic had seen a community awareness of only 15%, meaning people continued to drink unsafe water. There needed to be a simple and effective solution to communications and there came the seed for Polorum (formerly ZvakanakaSMS).

A year on, a lot of hard work and some funding later, our team is based internationally in the UK and Europe. We also work on the ground in Africa, in collaboration with a local NGO and hospital. Our pilot employs five local young people.

Contact Us

We partner with NGOs, organisations and tech companies to make sure our system gets delivered to the communities where it’s needed. Our story has been featured in the Startup Interviews.

Interested in working together? Please tweet us at @polorum.