Q and A with Guyana based Slingshot Funding

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Website : slingshotfunding.com

How did you come up with the name Slingshot?

The name ‘Slingshot’ came about serendipitously. We were looking for something that would ‘ring a bell’ with the Guyanese at home and abroad, which meant it had to have a colloquial sound to it and spur nostalgia. After brainstorming and bouncing ideas back and forth nothing seemed to stick or sound just right. One evening as we were sharing stories of childhood days and reflecting on how youth ‘back in the day’ appreciated the outdoors way more than the youth of today, we realized that we all at some point in our childhoods owned or played around with slingshots and that was our eureka moment.

What problem is this trying to solve?

Undoubtedly, Guyanese entrepreneurs and small business owners have great ideas and concepts and promising businesses. However, most entrepreneurs lack the support they need to bring their ideas to reality.

It’s no secret that today small and aspiring entrepreneurs face many challenges, especially in developing countries, from financing opportunities to business support services and product development. While these issues are not exclusive to developing countries alone, the level of under-banked and unbanked businesses and entrepreneurs are much higher in developing countries.

Recognizing that the playing field can sometimes be imbalanced or unfair, Slingshot is founded on the principle of inclusivity and equal opportunity. At Slingshot Funding we want to link entrepreneurs with ideas to people who share the same interests and are just as passionate about idea.

In a snapshot, we want to, on the one hand, meet the changing and dynamic financing needs of entrepreneurs and small business owners in Guyana and in the wider Caribbean Community, and go beyond just financing to non-financial support and partnerships in business.

On the other hand, we want to provide economically sound business opportunities, projects and ideas to people and organizations that have interests in seeing our Caribbean communities grow, giving them an opportunity to become development partners, sponsors and ambassadors for development.

Is this for Guyanese projects only?

There is a saying that goes (paraphrase) “there are a lot of problems in the world, but if you want to solve world problems you must first start with the ones at home”. While Slingshot Funding will focus on Guyanese projects for now, we are definitely looking to expand and accept projects form entrepreneurs and organizations from the wider Caribbean and possibly even spread our winds South.

Are there other crowd sourcing platforms in the Caribbean?

As far as we are aware there is one other crowdfunding platform emanating from Jamaica – Pitch and Choose / Fund Rise Her.

Any plans to cater for persons without credit cards?

We are currently working with local telephone providers to have a payment system based on mobile money or mobile money transfers.

Why should someone choose Slingshot instead of one of the globally recognized options?

Slingshot Funding is a hybrid crowdfunding platform, which means it is designed with developing economies in mind. Unlike other crowd funding platforms that provide only the basics, that is, a platform to which anyone can upload projects, we recognized that, at least in Guyana’s context, there are youth and women with great potential and with sound entrepreneurial ideas, however they many not be in a position to bring their ideas to the forefront. Slingshot assists from the ground up – project proposal development, project designs (videos and pictures), getting the word out and even post funding business support services. Slingshot is more than just a crowdfunding platform it’s a ‘development ecosystem’ for budding entrepreneurs, community organizations and groups.

What technologies were used to build out the Slingshot platform?

Simple is always good and there was no need to ‘reinvent the wheel’. Our platform is similar to many others out there (indiegogo, kickstarter, go fund me and others), based on simple HTML coding and JavaScript. What sets us apart is how we use the technology and the added value of the services we bring to the table.

Anything else you would like to add?

We welcome all projects: green projects to film; theater; technology; art and craft; agriculture etc. It must be noted however, that in order to safeguard creators and innovators from being stuck “between a rock and a hard place”, that is, with only half or a fraction of the funding they require for a project and project supporters expecting full results, we do all or nothing funding.

Our point of view is that funders may be more likely to support a project if they are assured that they will be reimbursed or at least have the option of supporting another project if an initial project does not garner 100% funding support by a set deadline.

Huawei Y6 II – My First Impressions

Huawei Y6 II – My First Impressions

Thanks to Huawei for providing this device for review. Huawei is a Chinese multinational networking and telecommunications equipment and services company. They have an office in Trinidad and they are focused on smartphones and devices, communications technology and the smart country. My journey to collect the phone started in Cunupia. There was start and stop rain in Port of Spain. It was my second visit to Huawei’s office. After leaving Huawei, a walk around the corner took me to Pollo Tropical where I sat, setup the phone and gave it some charge from my battery pack. I then walked over to the Savannah to get some test camera shots.

Check out a previous blog post – Some Things to Consider When Purchasing a Smartphone. I am using this phone as my daily driver for the next two weeks to be able to write a review at the end. The review will look at camera, battery life, ease of use and build among other things. Part of my review process is to look at other reviews and also look at what customers are saying. Reviews and feedback are important. These feed into the development cycle and lead to future improvements. This first impressions is a precursor.

The first thing that stood out for me was the bright red and clean packaging. The other thing was the large screen. Something you might not expect for a mid range budget smartphone. The setup was typical. Huawei phones come with their own Emotion UI (EMUI). The software navigation buttons (bottom) was strange to me at first. I am used to hitting the physical home button to wake up my phone. I was happy to see the OTA FM radio app, something that I don’t see in the flagship phones. I was surprised to see support for dual SIMs. However, only one SIM supports 4G. One disappointment was seeing two speaker grills at the bottom but learning that it was not stereo speakers and sound only comes from the right grill. The camera takes decent shots.

My first impressions leave me thinking this is a really nice phone for the price and category. I will have more to say in my full review. My cousin was asking me about smartphones the other day and one of the things that I took away from that conversation was that customers should have the benefit of local warranty, support and repairs. This is something that Huawei provides. Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

UPDATE : Videos uploaded to my YouTube channel

A Quick Look at the Huawei Y6 II
Emotion UI (EMUI) on Huawei Y6 II – Tips, Tricks and Useful Features

Device shots below

Huawei Y6 II - My First Impressions 1

Huawei Y6 II - My First Impressions 3.jpg

Huawei Y6 II - My First Impressions 2.jpg

Getting Started with React Native: My Experience

Getting Started with React Native: My Experience

What is React Native? React is a JavaScript library for building user interfaces and React Native is a framework for native mobile development using JavaScript and React. It is maintained by Facebook and others. I started with the Getting Started guide.

I already had the latest Python and Node.js (on Windows 10 – Insider Preview). Next I installed the React Native CLI – npm install -g react-native-cli. Then downloaded and installed Android Studio. Didn’t imagine the install file would be 1.8 GB. A key note from the guide – React Native, however, requires the Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) SDK. I created a projects folder and ran the command – react-native init MyProject. Got the following warning

‘yarn’ is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file.
Installing react-native…
Consider installing yarn to make this faster: https://yarnpkg.com

Went to the yarn website and this is what they say

Yarn caches every package it downloads so it never needs to download it again. It also parallelizes operations to maximize resource utilization so install times are faster than ever.

From their install page they reference Chocolatey. The React-Native guide also does. After the project files are created, it says run the command react-native run-android. From here the troubleshooting begins. I ran the command and got the following error message

ERROR: JAVA_HOME is not set and no ‘java’ command could be found in your PATH.

Please set the JAVA_HOME variable in your environment to match the
location of your Java installation.
Could not install the app on the device, read the error above for details.
Make sure you have an Android emulator running or a device connected and have
set up your Android development environment:
https://facebook.github.io/react-native/docs/android-setup.html

The command to start the AVD Manager is android avd but I got this error (I’m using PowerShell)

android : The term ‘android’ is not recognized as the name of a cmdlet, function, script file, or operable program.

So I had to find the folder containing android.bat and add it to PATH and restart PowerShell. Turned out to be C:\Users\hassan\AppData\Local\Android\sdk\tools but then this

The “android” command is no longer available.
For manual SDK and AVD management, please use Android Studio.
For command-line tools, use
tools\bin\sdkmanager.bat and tools\bin\avdmanager.bat

Added bin to the path. Restarted PowerShell. Command works but there is no GUI and it’s all command line. The GUI can be started from Android Studio – Tools > Android > AVD Manager. I also noticed that there is a Firebase option in the Tools menu. In creating the AVD I saw this message – Recommendation. HAXM not installed, with the option to install. Once I created my AVD I could close Android Studio because I could start the emulator from the command line. This link describes how to control the emulator from the command.

Remember the missing JAVA_HOME from above. Well turns out Android Studio comes with OpenJDK and the path for the JRE was C:\Program Files\Android\Android Studio\jre. Added that to my Environment Variables in Windows.

The command to run the emulator is – emulator -avd YOUR_AVD_NAME. Once the emulator was running I went back to the command to launch the app in the emulator – react-native run-android. It did some downloading, installing and building which took a few minutes and that was it. Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Troubleshooting Problems with Installing Seaborn

Troubleshooting Problems with Installing Seaborn

So I came across this problem in the Caribbean Developers facebook group and decided to challenge myself by trying it myself and see what my experience would be like. The objective is to install the Seaborn Python library and also using the offline install. The person was using pip install seaborn and getting an error that included the following

Connection to pypi.python. org timed out.

This is likely to be a proxy problem as indicated here but I continued with what I set out to do. I eventually got Seaborn installed but I had to use some unofficial Windows binaries. These are the problems I encountered and what I did to solve them. I am using Windows 10 Insider Preview, Visual Studio 2017 and (the latest for Windows) Python 3.6.0

Microsoft Visual C++ 14.0 is required. Get it with “Microsoft Visual C++ Build Tools

I went into the Visual Studio installer and added the items related to C++

PermissionError: [WinError 5] Access is denied: ‘c:\\program files (x86)\\python36-32\\Lib\\site-packages\\numpy’

I opened the command prompt as administrator

RuntimeError: Broken toolchain: cannot link a simple C program

I used the Developer Command Prompt for VS 2017 (instead)

numpy.distutils.system_info.NotFoundError: no lapack/blas resources found

I installed numpy+mkl and then scipy from here (this is unofficial and without warranty or support). The next step would be to figure out what Seaborn is used for and give it a try. Also I will try to figure out if there is an official or maybe better way to get this done. I had also installed VCForPython27 and cmake-3.8.0-rc2-win64-x64 but I don’t think those made a difference.