Each year, Fast Company, a business media brand, compiles a list of the Top 10 Most Innovative companies in the world. This year, South African-based Praekelt Foundation managed to make it into ninth position in the Africa category.

The Foundation uses open-source technology to provide millions of mobile phone users in countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia with free information on education, finance and health.

“Despite growing mobile penetration in Africa—researchers predict a 20% increase in mobile phones in the next five years—many countries still have poor outcomes for maternal health, education, governance, and transparency,” explained Gustav Praekelt, the foundation’s founder.

One of the Foundation’s most successful developments is TxtAlert, a tool that sends text message reminders to patients who make use of chronic medication. A great feature of TxtAlert is that it allows subscribers to reschedule a doctor appointment by simply replying with a ‘Please me Call’.

The Praekelt Foundation created Vumi – a custom-made mobile messaging platform with about 10 million subscribers, and Universal Core – an open source platform for the publication, management and distribution of content in a variety of languages.

The foundation also signed an agreement with South African Department of Health in partnership with UNICEF last year to create MomConnect, a free mobile app for expectant mothers.

“To be recognised by Fast Company is a real honour for us. Fast Company plays a significant role in giving a platform to leading enterprises and rising newcomers that are working in a progressive and innovative space. It is gratifying that our work is being seen alongside the most innovative in Africa,” acknowledged Praekelt.

Charlie started his professional life as a motoring journalist for a community newspaper in Mpumalanga, Charlie explored different journalistic angles since his entry into the fast-paced world of publishing in 2006. While fostering a passion for the arts, Charlie developed a love for technology – both which allowed him to serve as Entertainment and Technology Editor for an online publication. Charlie has since been heavily involved in consumer technology for various websites and publications. He thoroughly enjoys World War II films and cerebral documentaries; aviation; photography and indie music. Oh yes, and he also has a rather strange obsession with collecting coffee mugs from his travels.