Kenya’s population is estimated at 41 million. Almost 70% of this population is under the age of 35. Kenya is the most developed economy in Eastern Africa. The economy is growing on average with 5% every year. Almost 1 out 3 Kenyans is connected to Internet, 75% have a mobile phone and 1 out of every 2 uses his or her mobile phone to make mobile payments.
In a bid to grow the country’s ICT sector to gain traction and to become one of the World’s top 10 ICT destinations, the Kenyan government has launched a 1.6 Million Dollar public-private sector partnership with Nailab, a Kenyan startup Accelerator to create a Tech Business Incubation program that supports Kenyan ICT startups.
Nailab, managed by Sam Gichuru after launch 2 years ago, is a Kenyan techpreneur and business incubator based in Nairobi based out of 4th floor at Bishop Magua Center on Ngong Road (Opposite Uchumi). Nailab tries to lower the entry barriers for ICT entrepreneurs who want to start and scale their businesses in Kenya. Business Incubation provides entrepreneurs with access to critical information, education, contacts, capital and other resources crucial to the growth of the business that may otherwise be unaffordable, inaccessible, or otherwise unknown to the ICT Startups in Kenya.
Nailab started a joint venture way back in 2011 by Nailab Limited in partnership with the crowd-funding platform 1%CLUB and world-renown consultancy firm, Accenture.
“The idea was to create a business incubator in Nairobi whose main role was to stimulate innovation, provide a space for these ideas to be worked on with little financial strain as possible and provide the appropriate guidance necessary to do so. The Nailab focuses on early stage business ideas that are likely to have a large social and economic impact, are highly scalable, require minimum investments to prototype, and have a strong value proposition. With this Tech Business Incubation program we can upscale our ambition and support more ICT startups. It is our ambition to create the next generation of successful ICT companies of Kenya,” explained Sam Gichuru, the Nailab founder.
Several startups that have graduated from the Nailab include Tusqee Systems which developed a system that allows schools to send children’s grades to their parents by SMS. Tusqee Systems is now working on its 2nd project; a system that makes it easy for people to communicate and send bills & invoices via text message or SMS. Another successful startup churned from Nailab is MyOrder, which created a mobile application that allows every street vendor to open his or her own mobile web shop and allows customers to order and pay by mobile phone.
The Kenya ICT Board, (KICTB) has contracted Nailab to pilot the National Business Incubation program for companies with high growth potential. This project is an initiative of the Kenyan Ministry of Information and Communications under the World Bank and funded by the Kenya Transparency & Infrastructure Project. The main goal of this program is to build a program, support infrastructure and outreach with successes being replicated in other parts of the country.
“The growth in Kenya’s economy is pegged on how many profitable businesses we are able to build and sustain. This project displays the government’s commitment towards supporting SME’s and growing Kenya as an ICT destination”, commented Dr. Bitange Ndemo, PS in the Ministry of Information and Communications.
Digital Revolution: – Nailab hopes that a focus on the enablement of Small and Medium ICT Enterprises (SMEs) can contribute largely to Kenya’s economic development by providing jobs and income, expanding the middle class, broadening the tax base, and ultimately decreasing poverty levels.