Original Story Published by: Media Africa Staff
Photo Source: Lesan.AI
(Above) Founders of Lesan.ai.
Language translations for emerging economies.
ADDIS ABABA: Around the world there are millions of people that cannot consume the content on the web because it is not in their native language. This not only presents a huge hurdle for many communities to actively participate in online life, but also holds back economic opportunity for companies across the world.
We think this is a huge problem and are passionate about creating a solution. Lesan is a machine translation company for Ethiopian languages that builds technology to open up the web to more communities. We offer APIs that allow companies to instantly and accurately translate content to and from Ethiopian languages, starting with Amharic. With our machine translation technology, communities can access more information online that is relevant to them. We imagine a world where everyone can consume the content on the web, regardless of the language they speak.
In order for machine translation technology to work it needs a dataset with millions of translations. In the past, Google Translate and other MT providers have found this really challenging to build for certain languages in Ethiopia. We have found a new way to build these datasets and apply the latest research in the field to create accurate translation systems. Lesan’s CTO and co-founder, Asme, build the machine learning models to be as accurate as possible to produce translation outputs.
Asme grew up in Ethiopia and knew how many languages are not currently served well by Google Translate or other providers. He later went on to study his PhD in Germany in this field and had ideas how to create a great solution. Asme and I met in Berlin, Germany as part of Entrepreneur First, a program that helps individuals form companies. The more we learned about the challenges with machine translation for certain languages, and the potential impact a solution could have, the more we wanted to create this product. Our company has gone through Facebook’s connectivity accelerator in London, United Kingdom as well as the High-Tech Seed Lab in Berlin. We have raised pre-seed investment and are looking to raise a seed round in Q1 2021. We have finished our commercial Amharic translation API and will be rolling out Tigrinya soon. Companies in Ethiopia have started to integrate our API into their products and we are always looking for more. Companies that work with a lot of translation or user generated content like a marketplace or media company could expand their audiences by using our API.
If you know a company facing similar challenges and that would like to try out Lesan, send them our way! We also run a document translation service for companies that require perfect translations and are always on the lookout for great translators. We are planning on releasing our translation system to the public in September. Stay tuned for that release so you can try it out yourself at http://lesan.ai