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2020: Looking back at the year that was

Marina Sellstad
December 31, 2020

Another year is coming to an end and what a strange year it has been. The global pandemic of COVID-19 changed the world as we know it. It has challenged us, not just as a technology company, but as people in general. It has indeed been a year of reflection, persistence, and growth!

So many companies have decreased or even had to shut down due to COVID-19. This is just a time where it’s essential to look and see beyond the pain of this reality and simply focus on what we can do and how. Our main target preliminary was universities and skill-training institutions. The Coronavirus pandemic did indeed affect our business too, as most schools and universities here in Uganda completely closed for over 6 months. Some are still closed. The schools expressed an overwhelming transition to e-learning, to an adaption to digital tools in general, which is why we created a digital toolkit to inform schools about useful tools and tricks in relation to e-learning. We have reviewed and improved our stakeholder mapping strategy from this year’s research to align with the new needs of our specific target groups. We have utilized this time to perfect our core functionalities as well as, vigorously testing our additional platform that targets employers. By staying on the ground in Uganda we have connected with many great organizations and also signed some very exciting new partnerships and customers for 2021. Highlighting our new paying customer, Stanbic Business Incubator

Highlights of 2020

  • Financing secured for 3,4 million NOK
  • We have landed our first paying customer with Stanbic Business Incubator and verified 2 new revenue streams
  • New Launch of Skill Provider platform Version 1.0
  • Expanded our team with 5 more amazing people! 3 devs, 2 business, and 1 UX designer
  • Set up new Office in Uganda, Kampala
  • New amazing Development partners such as Jumia, Project Girls for Girls and PHAU
  • We are set to issue to 1000 students and 10 000 certificates
  • New Website Refresh www.diwala.io

We are grateful to see ourselves surviving through this hard time and are taking all the learnings we can to heart. The importance of digital services such as Diwala is apparent during a time where physical interaction has and is still being regulated all over the world.

As we are a remote-first company, our CTO’s passion for remote and digital processes and structure has safeguarded us to keep alignment and continue the optimization of our processes. It has truly shown us its value and has enabled us to continuously improve our platform to meet our stakeholders’ needs.

We have also learned that In difficult times, it is important not to stress out or lose faith. Support each other and keep calm; there is always a solution for most problems, if not it is essential that we iterate or even change directions to serve who we design for in the best possible way.

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Product Milestones

Q1 and 2

  • Heavy User testings performed on new features for Skill Providers and Skill ID holders
  • Extensive User testing of design prototypes with verifiers
  • Built the decentralised Skill Identity service, releasing ourselves from the need for a second application linked with our service.
  • A verified business model with 50 employers in Uganda

Q3 and 4

  • Optimised core functionalities for all stakeholders
  • Further optimising the business model for all stakeholders
  • Extensive research into the market and redefined our strategies and focus
  • Now you can select among 3 great default certificate design templates to issue with. — Get your own specialised certificate design template at a cost.
  • Up to 2 people can now sign the certificates, and represent them with digital handwritten signatures.

New Development Partnerships established in 2021

This year was filled with continuous user testing, and we are happy to announce that we have verified payment willingness with over 50 Ugandan organisations. We have also connected with some truly amazing organizations that will officially be part of the developments in 2021. Some of them are:

Issuers on the Diwala Skill Provider Platform

This year we have got more issuers of the Diwala platform, and many more to come next year! 

Team Expansion

Our team is growing, and this year we hired 5 new employees from all over the world! We welcome our two new Ugandans Irene Mutuzo and Graeme Ampeire, UX designer Carmel Kelly from Dublin, and our new software developers Sanuja and Rakesh from India.

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We in Diwala wish you all a Merry Christmas & a Happy new year!

Curious to read more about our journey? Read our previous article about year 2019 here https://www.diwala.io/post/the-story-of-diwala-year-2019-building-inclusive-technology