Kenya has seen great development in terms of technology over the last few decades. Apart from being ranked among the top 100 countries with worldwide innovation influence, the country has recorded great achievements including the unveiling of a laptop assembling plant and development of an online revenue collection system.
Support from research institutions, corporate companies and the Kenyan government has led to the emergence of tech hubs, labs and institutions like m-lab East Africa, iHub, Nailab and Growth Hub.
University of Nairobi’s C4D lab, Kenyatta University’s Manu Chandaria hub and Strathmore University’s Ilab and IbizAfrica Incubator is right at the center of the great technology walk that Kenya has taken.
Listed as the best private university in Kenya, Strathmore which started in 1961, as the first multi-racial, multi-religious institution has worked hard over the past years to establish itself in the field of technology and innovation.
In other universities in the country, a mere mention of the student center brings across nothing past the indoor games, small businesses and a bunch of students enjoying drinks and playing host to several events but that’s not the case at Strathmore University.
The Madaraka based varsity’s idea of establishing Ilab research center and an Incubation center has helped it convince the population that it is on the verge of becoming Kenya’s Silicon Savannah. The two units have seen Strathmore churn out graduates who are recognized all over the world.
Known for its outstanding curriculum on business and technology, the university has had several of their students crowned as the best in competitions in both Africa and abroad.
The university also prides itself in the number of innovative businesses that they have nurtured and guided to prosperity.
IlabAfrica and IbizAfrica
To compete in an increasing complex changing environment in the education sector, Strathmore came up with IbizAfrica as a new strategy that will not only market their services but also improve their contributions in improving the Kenyan economy.
The center based at the 5th floor of the University’s student center hosts close to 100 young innovators and businessmen whose companies will shape the world in the coming years.
According to the University management, the IbizAfrica incubation center was established to carry out the entrepreneurship and incubation theme of IlabAfrica research center.
The center acts as a focal point for investors to engage potential technology entrepreneurs.
It fosters an environment for Kenyan entrepreneurs to develop, nurture and exchange innovative ideas.
The incubator provides mentorship and services to startup companies such as seed capital, legal advice, financial expertise, relevant training and physical resources.
The Incubator provides office space furnished with office furniture, board rooms and with access to free internet.
The University allows everyone with an idea that can lead to a successful business to join the facility. The facility admits applicants on a yearly basis through a program referred to as Pitch Friday.
According to the Incubator Manager, Mr. David Chiira, Pitch Friday allows everyone who has a business idea to pitch before a selected panel before being allowed to either join the incubator or access its services.
“Pitch Friday takes place during the last Friday of every month from 2.30pm to 4.30pm. Presenters get 5 minutes to pitch their ideas to an experienced panel. They also get an opportunity to join the Incubator and possibly secure financial and business advisory services from IbizAfrica”, Says David Chiira.
Kenya’s Silicon Savannah.
Just as the Kenyan government had stated six years ago, Strathmore university through IbizAfrica is turning the country into an ‘App economy’. Already, the facility has helped develop more than 1000 mobile applications from more than 500 technology start-up companies. The facility has also been credited with nurturing Dynamic Data System, an intelligent mobile application that allows users to track their transactions by providing financial journals on their devices.
At the end of its development at the incubation hub, the start-up was acquired for an undisclosed amount by Safaricom in 2014 changing its name to Safaricom M-ledger.
The incubator also hosts some of the most promising companies such as Magazine Reel who emerged as winners of the 2014 Safaricom Appwiz Challenge taking home close to 1.7 Million shillings.
It also supports upcoming flight, health and pharmaceutical, agricultural, entertainment and music companies.
The university has stated that it has plans to link up its services internationally in the coming years to allow local innovators expose their business to the outside world.
The incubator Manager also noted that they will soon be launching their own investment fund which will go a long way in supporting startups incubated at IbizAfrica.