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Rock my Ecosystem - Kenya innovation ecosystem


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Innovation has no place in a global world, it’s everywhere

Innovation ecosystems can learn from one another

Local context matters and should be a source for innovators

This is why…

We’re on a world tour of innovation ecosystems!

This report talks about the Iran startup and innovation ecosystem as of 2013. We've already covered Malaysia, Kenya and Belgium in similar ways.

Contact us for more info!

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Rock my Ecosystem - Kenya innovation ecosystem

  1. 1. Kenya innovation ecosystem A 1-week exploration following the Afrikoin conference in Nairobi December 2013
  2. 2. We believe… Innovation has no place in a global world, it’s everywhere Innovation ecosystems can learn from one another Local context matters and should be a source for innovators This is why… We’re on a world tour of innovation ecosystems!
  3. 3. History & context of innovation in Kenya Political sparks in an already fertile background
  4. 4. A brief history of Kenya innovation ecosystem • 1895: The British Empire established the East Africa Protectorate • 1964: The Independent Republic of Kenya is proclaimed, English is its official language • 1960-1980: Although officially “non-aligned”, Kenya adopts a pro-western stance, resulting in a capitalistic economy (neighboring Tanzania is socialist)
  5. 5. A brief history of Kenya innovation ecosystem • 2002-2005: drop in prices of phones make them accessible • 2005-2006: 1st first undersea cable for internet in Kenya. Africa Online, based in Nairobi, 1st pan-African internet service provider • 2007: Mpesa, the mobile money system, is built by telco Safaricom
  6. 6. A brief history of Kenya innovation ecosystem • 2008: An electoral crisis makes Ushahidi, a crowdsourced crisis map accessible through SMS, hugely popular • 2010: Ushahidi founders & team launch iHub, Kenya’s 1st tech/IT cluster downtown Nairobi, now an epicenter of tech in Africa • 2013: Government plan “Vision 2030” includes giant tech city Konza to be built for $14.5bn and sustain the innovation ecosystem
  7. 7. Success stories in the Kenya tech industry • Mpesa, a mobile money system built by Kenyan telco Safaricom, makes 31% of the GDP spent via mobile • iHub is the 1st coworking space and tech center in Kenya, with many startups, incubators and community-driven events
  8. 8. Online & tech landscape of Africa
  9. 9. Kenya is a top connected country in Africa… • As often in Africa, Kenya is a “mobile first” country • 12% of mobile users in Kenya are smartphone users
  10. 10. ... With high social media activity… Asia 27% • More than “social media”, social is a way of life in Kenya, with 45% of the GDP coming from the co-operative economy • Political events (elections crisis in 2008, Westgate attacks in 2013) stir social media use
  11. 11. … and strong co-operative/sharing economy Asia 27% • 42% of Kenya GDP made by cooperative companies/ventures • Chama (groups of women) are the base unit of this sharing economy • They tap & collect money from unbanked women and own most transportation mini-buses in Kenya, for instance
  12. 12. The best is still to come in Africa tech Asia 27%
  13. 13. Kenya innovation ecosystem today Pros & Cons, Top Connectors & local best practices
  14. 14. Pros and cons of Kenya innovation ecosystem PROS • CONS • Diversified economy = many innovation possibilities in different industries Security issues (Somali & South Soudan nearby) and recent Westgate terrorist attack Success in Kenya/East Africa does not mean success in other parts of Africa (cultural differences) • Lack of technical skills/talent • Market size not so big + many cultural differences inside Kenya (biggest ethnic group = 20% of population) English-speaking (mother tongue) • • • Hub of a 150 million people region (Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Kenya) with forthcoming monetary union • Cooperative/Sharing economy accounts for 42% of GDP (chama): highly social base • Diaspora effect: $1bn remittances in 2013 • Supportive government: KONZA city + 30% tenders allowed to youth/women entrepreneurs
  15. 15. Top connectors in Kenya Eric Hersman (Twitter), founder of Ushahidi then iHub, Kenya’s first tech cluster. Known as “White African” online. Reputed observer of the African tech scene beyond Kenya. Mbwana Alliy (Twitter), founder of the Savannah fund, Kenya’s VC. Tanzanian national with Stanford education and Silicon Valley experience. Martin Obuya (LinkedIn), engineer in satellites comms turned facilitator and multi-hat man at iHub. Also connects new media community and education. Brian Muthiora (LinkedIn), worked previously at Safaricom, Kenya’s telco and operator of mobile money Mpesa. Now at GSMA (telco association) as regulatory expert.
  16. 16. Top connectors to bridge Kenya to the world Pelle Braendgaard (Twitter), Danish & American codeur turned entrepreneur with Kipochi. Ties up Bitcoin to remittances with strong vision on cryptocurrencies. Eran Feinstein (LinkedIn), veteran of the mobile payment industry in Africa, heading 3GDirectPay. Njeri Chelimo (Twitter), Codeur turned hacktivist, running Nairobi Dev School to teach for free coding to Kenya youth. Gianluca Iazzolino (LinkedIn), research at the University of Edinburgh, working on how Somali use mobile money (hawala).
  17. 17. Best practices of Kenya innovation ecosystem • iHub tech cluster runs without support from government or “usual suspects” of the tech world • Large autonomy and “test and try” culture for anyone with a project and a will
  18. 18. Best practices of Kenya innovation ecosystem • A long-term vision from Kenya government embodied in “Vision 2030” • A new huge tech cluster called Konza City ($14.5bn investment) to be build nearby Nairobi
  19. 19. Best practices of Kenya innovation ecosystem • New Constitution includes 30% of public tenders reserved for companies started by youth (below 25), women entrepreneurs or persons with disabilities
  20. 20. What’s next for Kenya? Recommendations to push forward the innovation ecosystem
  21. 21. Next steps for Kenya innovation ecosystem Turn the entrepreneurial youth into people able to understand and develop code • Sustain grassroots initiatives such as Nairobi Dev School to learn to code for free “I wanted to go to a hack school in the US, in New York. But my visa was refused, so I just set up my own school here. The first batch of 12 weeks is ending this December 2013” ( • Help SMEs and existing business to integrate startup way of thinking “Eustace’s mission is to have the core concepts of the startup economy (prototyping, incubation) migrate to the more traditional SMEs and big corporations, so as to turn them into intrapreneurs. Startupify the old business, in a nutshell. To do so, Afritel runs programs of incubation, but also assessment of skills for a better placement of the youth (
  22. 22. Next steps for Kenya innovation ecosystem Reach out Kenyan tech to countries with similar features in emerging markets • Identify countries with similar features as Kenya “In Kenya, many differences already exist, but some Kenyan share features with people nearby, in Tanzania or Uganda” (Sam Gichuru, Nailab incubator) • Help Kenyan startups and tech to go and learn out of the country “Market size is small, and tons of events exist across Africa to spread the word and test markets once a first base has been successful at home”.
  23. 23. Next steps for Kenya innovation ecosystem Get a global lead on digitizing cooperative movements • Take advantage of a cooperative-based economy at home “Chama and cooperative economy makes up to 42% of the GDP in Kenya. 300 000 chamas are registered, potentially 3x more are existing” (Ian Grigg, founder of • Support the expansion of these startups abroad “Turnover of the co-operative economy in 2010: $1 155.1bn”
  24. 24. Eager to learn about the other innovation ecosystems?
  25. 25. About our project A world tour of innovation ecosystems Documenting innovation through key events Hot posts, interviews, live-tweet, Google Hangouts Identifying key connectors on & offline Discovering alternative and emerging innovation ecosystems Beyond the Silicon Valley, local innovation hotbeds Tech, Social impact, Education, Life Sciences… Increasing mobility of innovators and ecosystem enablers Connecting doers and thinkers through monthly Hangouts Offering innovation ecosystem enablers to learn and exchange from peers
  26. 26. About our team Analysis, community & network Martin Pasquier Anne Lalou Nicolas Loubet Gayané Adourian Entrepreneur in Singapore (social media agency), longtime traveller Mixes economics, politics and travels to analyze ecosystems, reports on innovation CEO of Innovation Factory & Web School Factory in Paris Transfer knowledge of ecosystems to new generation and to a network of top French companies Serial entrepreneur in Paris with 3 companies, growth hacker Manages and nurtures creative communities on & offline Scientific journalist turned entrepreneur and event maniac Covers and augment events with reporters and new media tools & services
  27. 27. Links & resources to know more about Kenya innovation ecosystem
  28. 28. About The Rockmy project in Kenya • Our archive blog to find all the content produced for this report • Follow us on Twitter: @martpasquier, @nicolasloubet, @annelalou • Support us for our world tour, get reports on-demand and more!
  29. 29. About Sources on the web • • • • • Afrikoin Conference (website) iHub Research ongoing projects (website) Kenya’s government “Vision 2030” (website) Mark Kaigwa’s blog (blog) Erik “White Afrikan” Hersman’s blog (blog)
  30. 30. Thanks! Martin Pasquier, for Rock my Ecosystem