Technology and internet penetration have revolutionised access to news and information. However, the amount of information emanating from various news sources and circulating on social media can get overwhelming. Angolan startup Manifexto has made it its mission to provide a go-to platform for accessing reliable news sources, and sieve out confusing “fake news”.
Launched in beta last year on Angola’s election day, August 23, Manifexto offers a web-based news aggregator which aims to provide a one-stop-shop for citizens to access news and information from the full spectrum of state-run, private, international and local news outlets.
Reliability is key, and the startup wants to be integral in helping the population to sift through the large amount of “fake news” generated – particularly on social media; and wants to make it easy to verify real news sources.
“Manifexto is needed because our platform converges all news in a democratic environment, easily accessible and usable, allowing our society to be more aware and empowered,” says co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Zedilson Almeida.
“We want to be a neutral place that offers information to the public, regardless of the agenda behind each information source. That way, an individual can be informed of what is going on, read several perspectives of a subject and then make an informed and personal choice or decision.”
Almeida says only one Portuguese company offers any Lusophone equivalent of what Manifexto is trying to achieve; but he says this “competitor” is limited in its Angolan coverage, and what it does offer is from only state-run or pro-regime sources.
“Manifexto offers news from several sources, pro or against the regime, and in the future we intend to be an open platform for opinion makers to deliver information,” he says.
Four months into operations, Manifexto has attracted 17,500 users to its platform. The startup has big plans to exponentially grow its reader base through 2018 – first hoping to scale across Angola, but then also to other Lusophone markets.
While expansion is a priority, the Manifexto team is also working to develop a range of verification technologies, to exclude “fake news” from its platform.
“As a startup focused on information, we have the responsibility to mitigate these risks and create a safe environment where individuals can access information and learn about its credibility. We believe this to also be a unique selling point when comparing to our competitors and we are working on mechanisms to ensure readers of the credibility of each piece of information on our platform,” Almeida says.
All this progress needs plenty of talent, however. Currently a three-man founder team and bootstrapped to date, Manifexto is looking to raise funding in 2018 to grow its team, boost its expansion, and to continue development of new features.
“Civic tech has the power to change the world as we know it and we are committed to achieve changes in Africa through Manifexto,” Almeida says.