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Startup - November 17, 2021

How African Businesses Can Use AI to Break Language Barriers

Tunisian startup iCompass is leveraging artificial intelligence to break the language barrier for businesses.

A lot of businesses in Africa and around the world don’t expand internationally because of the language barrier. Report shows that a multilingual task force has become critical for businesses that are looking to expand globally.

Tunisian startup iCompass is leveraging artificial intelligence to break the language barrier between businesses and their customers across Africa and the Middle East.

 iCompass, founded in 2019 by Ahmed Nouisser and Hatem Haddad, is a natural language processing (NLP) company that develops speech transcription services, autonomous voice production, and chatbot and voicebot solutions utilising the latest deep learning and reinforcement learning technologies.

According to chief communications officer Suzy Mahjoub, the startup’s newest NLP R&D overcame linguistic and dialectal barriers, enabling a greater computer comprehension of mainstream languages and underrepresented dialects in Africa and the Middle East.

“The market we looked at is the Middle East and Africa where we realised that companies communicate with their clients in standard languages such as Modern Standard Arabic, French, or English but not in their native languages or dialects; which creates a gap in their customer experience, the quality of services rendered, and access to relevant and accurate information,” she said.

“In an audience-centric world, where the heart is the compass, this linguistic gap translates into a customer experience where brands may not meet their audiences where they are. iCompass identified an opportunity to help companies speak to people’s hearts in their native languages, since it is easier to teach a machine to speak many languages than to teach all people to speak one language”, she added.

iCompass provides its AI solution to fintech, telecom and insurance businesses in Tunisia, Mali, Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal and Ivory Coast, and is expanding to other parts of Africa and the Middle East in the months to come.

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