By Paul Ndiho, Nairobi, Kenya
The success of internet and mobile connectivity In Kenya is inspiring the nation’s young people to initiate tech hubs like Nailab – a business incubator focused on providing the right ingredients to turn business ideas into viable start-ups, which can compete on a global scale.
Nailab is a highly creative space where young entrepreneurs meet, develop and share ideas. It’s a business incubator and support center that provides innovators with the infrastructure for business growth, and where budding entrepreneurs can see their concepts take off. Sam Gichuru is the CEO Nailab
“Nailab is a space where our innovators to come and try to see where their ideas can become businesses. And so we play the facilitation role of trying to work with young people who are thinking in a certain way and how can we move them from one point to the next point and mainly focus on that is heavily ICT.”
Nailab was launched in 2011, with an ambitious goal of changing Kenya, one start-up at a time through an entrepreneurship program that spans three to six months.
“We’ve helped over 40 companies; most of those are still in business. A few have done a few successful things here and there. We have created a lot of jobs, serving customers in hundreds of thousands, been able to raise money in debt, almost in the millions of dollars.”
Gichuru says helping emerging entrepreneurs is something he does because he believes it will spur development.
“What inspires me has been to help people who have grown up in the same environment like I did to just have a better life. That inspires me, the ability to give people hope and to see them move from nothing to actually something. Most are very tech; I’m a very techy person so I really like creating things. And when I find other people look and create things then I have resources, I can alter their creations and just make it work.”
Other start-ups taking advantage of the office space include, Kuhustle, a platform that allows skilled freelancers to find digital jobs across Africa. Billy Odero is Kuhustle’s co-founder.
“I’ve been working in the industry for quite a while and one thing that you realize is that a lot of people always coming to you and asking you do you know of someone who can do this, do you know someone who can do that. And one thing we realize is that there is a lot of demand for people who can do certain jobs but people don’t really know where to find them. So I figured why not come up with a platform that can connect them to them.”
Apps are all the rage for a growing number of mobile devices. And young people are taking advantage of this revolution. Beverly Mbeke is Chief of Operations at Kuhustle.
“At the moment, we’re kind of focusing on marketing towards tech jobs. So you know people need apps, people need websites, but you also have …… creative, so you know people who want to design logos, want to come up with new landing Pages, want to have new …. Experiences for their applications, but we also have people who are looking for, say someone wants to do writing or something like that.”
Analysts say Kenya’s IT industry has been on a major upswing in the past few years, driven largely by advances in mobile phone technology. And Kenyan officials are keen to capitalize on that technology too.
2015 was a year brimming with insightful innovations, it will be exciting to see what Nailab has to offer this year — and how high will Kenya’s technology revolutions eventually reach.
Paul Ndiho is a Ugandan – American video journalist/ executive producer, Africa Innovations & Technology based in Washington D.C with interests in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in Africa. He is passionate about mentor-ship and developing the next generation of Africa’s young leaders. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook: Paul Ndiho and Twitter: @pndiho