Technopreneurship in Kenya
Technopreneurship has been a buzzword that is used pretty often in recent times due to the emergence of tech companies that end up dominating the market within a very short period of time. What is it? Let’s take a dive into its definition and how it has emerged in Kenya.
Technopreneurship is using technology to revolutionalize orthodox practices making them easier and more efficient. A good example is the emergence of Fintech companies like M-Pesa which pioneered mobile money transfer in the world. The orthodox way of sending money was through banks or messengers back in the late 2000s but with M-Pesa it became cheaper, quicker and safer to send money.
A little history
The emergence of Technopreneurship in Kenya can be dated back to 2003 where companies like Cellulant were founded to optimize payments for businesses and has since then launched in Nigeria, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda.
This was probably an age where the entrepreneurial culture was not as popular as it is now making it much harder for the founders. However, it is commendable how the company has grown, raising a total of $54.5M as of 2022.
Incubators and Accelerators
Since then, a number of incubation centres for startups have come up with the pioneer being i-hub, located at Senteu Plaza, Galana Road. I-hub was founded in 2010 by Erik Hersman before being acquired by Co-Creation Hub in 2019. It was one of the first places where startups looking to grow would get office space and internet to run their operations before gaining enough traction to afford offices. Other similar spaces that have come up include Nailab, Adanian labs, Rhion labs.
One very interesting accelerator is Impact Africa Network which has an innovation fellowship program that involves young Africans in building tech startups. This has proven quite impactful as it has led to emergence of companies like Jenga School, systematic entrepreneurship seamlessHQ, Kuzah, Tapin and Shukran all built by young and innovative minds. This gives them a chance to participate in the evolution currently happening in the continent.
These spaces have promoted technopreneurhship in the country leading to emegence of tech companies which then attract investors and business accelerators to set base in Kenya. International venture firms like Antler have set up an incubator-like program in Nairobi where people looking to co-found a business can get Co-Founders, build a prototype and get funding of about $100,000. Similar spaces have been setup by the like of Microsoft, Google and Visa to push their strategy to invest in the continent.
What are some of the startups that have benefited from this? A popular one is Marketforce360, a tech startup that automates operations in the informal sector, which went through Antler and managed to get funding from Y Combinator. The company also managed to raise a series A funding of $40M in early 2022.
With the current investment in the African continent almost quadrupling, it appears the age of technopreneurship has just began. We might be seeing a wave of technopreneurs building unicorns in the coming decade and changine the narrative that has existed for so long, too long perhaps.