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OurHood app to expand after funding boost

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OurHood connects over 22 000 community members across SA.
OurHood connects over 22 000 community members across SA.

Cape Town-based community watch app OurHood is eyeing African expansion after receiving equity funding from software development firm Lightswitch Solutions.

Foundedin 2014, OurHood connects over 22 000 users to 1 300 neighbourhoods across SA. It allows members of the same community to engage and share information, including crime info, recommendations and tradesmen referrals, lost pets, local services and general news.

The Web-based and mobile app uses real-time communication tools and verifies users through its interactive interface that connects to social media feeds.

OurHood's new equity partner Lightswitch Solutions will join the firm to oversee ongoing infrastructural development, app updates and improvements. The undisclosed funding will also be used on the company's growth expansion plans, as it eyes another African market.

David Bonellie, MD of OurHood, says: "OurHood plays an important role in crime eradication through the OurHood partner programme, which allows civic organisations such as neighbourhood watch groups, security companies and home-owner associations to push vital information directly to their residents.

"There are constantly new features being developed for the platform. We are working on a new portal which is aimed at assisting local businesses." The feature will encourage local residents to use businesses in their neighbourhood.

The app operates in all nine local provinces and its founders are engaged in conversations to expand its services to an undisclosed African market.

"While I cannot name the country we are currently engaging, its government is looking to trial the platform in one of its municipalities. They are running through the product and will be going into demo phase soon," says Bonellie.

As an equity partner, Lightswitch is able to help shape the direction of the business by showcasing its technical abilities of building innovative products and software solutions, it says.

The Cape Town-based company is made up of a team of problem-solving programmers and engineers, who craft digital solutions for cross-sector organisations and create bespoke system development software.

Keelan Whiting, CEO of Lightswitch, comments: "We are really proud of the iOS and Android apps we've built for OurHood. To be an equity partner forms part of our business strategy to not only deliver products for our clients, but to have our team build our own products which we can showcase to the world."

Upon registration, users run a search on their neighbourhood and follow the prompts, after which they will be able to access a digital noticeboard of the latest news in their area. If they cannot find their neighbourhood, they will be able to request that it be built immediately.

"Tech development skills are both difficult to come by, and exceptionally expensive," notes Bruce Good, co-founder of OurHood.

"To have an outstanding partner like Lightswitch on board to provide the software expertise is essential for us to deliver a high-quality, slick product.

"Over the past four years, we have seen how great the demand has been for a private app for neighbourhoods. We're thrilled to be able to deliver a product that meets this demand."

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