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Meet Abdulhakim Bashir, founder of start-up that uses AI to track shoplifting

Abdulhakim Bashir was not a popular name before October 2019. He came to the limelight after winning $10,000 at Gitex, the biggest global technology gathering in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.

His story should serve as a confidence booster for Nigerian entrepreneurs who are thinking of dropping their ideas in the face of lack of support or encouragement.

The Katsina State-born Bashir is the founder of Chiniki Guard, an artificial intelligence security solution for retail stores and supermarkets. The AI tool is designed to monitor, detect and alert shop owners about shoplifting and suspicious behaviour in real-time.

“We understand that over 80 percent of retail store shrinkage is caused either by dishonest employee theft or shoplifting,” he said on his website.

“We envisioned how Artificial Intelligence might combat this rampant act to save retailers lost. Chiniki Guard consist of a control center inference app to stream videos, a mobile app and a dashboard,” he explained.

He says that Chiniki Guard is a human activity recognition service that provides real-time update by analysing a video feed.

Through a video analysis software, Bashir’s Chiniki Guard can easily classify the action a shopper is taking as suspicious and flag report it. Managers get notified immediately through a connected mobile app.

Abdulhakim started coding in 2014 and became engrossed in machine learning and other technologies in 2017. And that was when he designed Chiniki, which was meant to be an eCommerce platform.

He studied at Hassan Usman Katsina Polytechnic and got a job as a software developer at Kano Electricity Distribution Company while an undergraduate. This frustrated a number of graduates who had applied alongside him, with many concluding that he had a connection. But as he admitted in interviews, he was taken because the electricity company felt he was the best.

In an interview with Techpoint Africa, the then 22- year-old said got the job despite explaining to the electricity company that he was still in school.

“Although I told them I was still in school, they saw I was the best hand they could get and promised to find a way to make it work,” he said.

He told Techpoint Africa that Chiniki Guard was founded in 2018 as an action-recognition algorithm before diverting into theft detection. It was also basically founded to enable educational institutions to detect examination malpractices.

“Our solution is fully software although we had to incorporate hardware — PC and camera. The software is deployed as a desktop application which computes pose recognition, estimation, and prediction,” he had said.

Like many Nigerians, life was not easy for the young entrepreneur as he found it difficult to convince a lot of people about the viability of his AI project. In an environment where many people are uncomfortable with disruptions, a lot of people never took him seriously. But the story is different today.

After winning the award last October, the young entrepreneur expressed confidence in Nigeria but pointed out that the economy needed the full involvement of the private sector.

ODINAKA ANUDU

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