How to effectively scale your Business – Cellulant Co-founder and Board Director Ken Njoroge

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How to effectively scale your Business

What does it take to scale one’s business? It could be argued by many that it requires funding, in-depth staff processes, and technology among a myriad of mechanisms. However, did you know that confidence and belief in one’s idea are also crucial, even though the fear of failure among startup founders is common? 

This is according to a recent survey, where 90 percent of CEOs reported startup failure as one of the main causes of their distress. The reasons for fear of a startup venture taking off could be because when many founders visualize their idea they want to have a billion-dollar or a million-dollar venture, and sometimes get overwhelmed with the process before they start. Globally according to recent research, there are 1,183 billion dollar startups in the world today,  and Kenya is not exempt from this list having received  KES. 5.8 Billion worth of funding in 2021 which shows hopes for Silicon Savannah. 

In order to understand the key factors that are essential for scaling a startup, @iBizAfrica and Standard Chartered convened the second Women In Tech Town Hall series themed  “How to effectively scale up your business: What every Kenyan startup needs to know” with Cellulant Cofounder and Board Director Ken Njoroge.

Ken founded Cellulant in  2004 and has grown the corporation to become the leading multinational payments platform Solutions provider in several African countries while also raising over $54.5 million to date. This has seen the company establish a presence in 18 countries and 35 markets. For Ken, building ventures has been a lifelong adventure anchored in his deep passion for the African continent and its potential. His newest venture- PANI is a boutique firm focused on supporting, coaching, and investing in African founding teams to build transformational technology companies and ride a great journey. With this wealth of experience, he was definitely the right speaker to guide and deliver his journey to our women-led startups.

The session was exciting, engaging, and transformational and allowed the current and alumni of the program to gain knowledge, insights, and tips from a local perspective on how they too can scale their businesses. It was a thought-provoking session and one that got the start-ups rethinking their next steps to implement in their business strategies in order to scale.

During the session,  Ken Njoroge drew upon his  22 years of entrepreneurial and venture capital experience to serve as a  reflection point for his keynote address. The overall theme of his discussion centered around the need for startup founders to believe in their vision and mission as this was one of the key ingredients for the success and scaling of a venture.

It was an interactive and insightful session that comprised the following takeaways 

1. Work with the right talent, and people who believe in your vision as a founder.

According to recent research,  globally, 23 percent of startups fail owing to the wrong hires. Startups needed to be willing enough to spend money to attract the right talent. The employees a startup hires need to buy into the mission and conviction of the founder. “If you want to know the success rate of a business, look at the initial 3 employees that were hired when the business was at the idea stage. These employees will be most likely to buy into the vision of the founder and implement his vision as they have been part of the growth and assimilated into the founder’s vision” Ken stated.

2. When you have a conviction, customers and stakeholders believe in you.

In order for a startup to position itself as a renowned leader in its industry so as to achieve its desired output, startup founders believing in themselves. Founders need to stop selling themselves short when pitching to investors, which undervalues their worth. Ken instead encouraged founders present to value their ventures as high as their projections whether it was 2 billion dollars stating that “Great customers and great talent will relate to and buy into your great conviction. In other words “go after that big customer.”

3. A business should grow every month.

With many debates bordering on how regularly startups should grow, Ken stated that a startup needed to grow on a monthly basis for it to be able to scale “Identify what you did last month that brought you that extra profit or extra customer now do that again in the next month and put more effort to gain another customer or slightly more profit” he said

4. Be intentional about defining customers’ success.

Listening to a client’s needs is also an additional factor that contributes to growth.

“Establish what you need to fix. Happy customers and lost customers are a treasure since they air out their satisfaction,” Ken mentioned.

This session was the second of a three-part series aimed at bringing together current and present alumni of the women in tech program to gain insights from key industry leaders such as Ken to help them in furthering their businesses.

The sessions are also part of the incubation and training program for the top 10 startups in this year’s 5th cohort selected from a pool of over 350 applicants who applied for the Women in tech program. These startups have been undergoing 12 weeks of mentorship at @iBizAfric-Strathmore University where they are currently being offered training in areas such as business idea conceptualization, and strategy formulation among others in readiness for the Award day scheduled to take place later in the year.

Since its inception, the Women in tech program has attracted over 1,800 applicants, trained over 40 entrepreneurs, and funded 20 women-led startups through a partnership with the Standard Chartered Bank.

Hope for Drone technology in Kenya

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Hope for Drone technology in Kenya

Imagine converting a 24-meter Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) weighing 24,947.58 Kgs into a pocket size tiny flying microbot (Picolissimo) weighing approximately 2.5 grams, almost the size of a golf ball, to carry out tasks such as gathering data for analytics, assisting in the search and rescue operations among others. As unimaginable as this seems, this is how far technology has transcended. 

Unfortunately, the drone technology uptake in Kenya has not been a linear path. Unbeknown to many, the entry of the first drone in Kenya in  2013 was met with criticism from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority. At the time, it was termed as an innovation that could not be licensed as it could not be covered by the Kenyan aviation laws which at the time were not defined to oversee the drone space in the country. 

Fastrack to a decade later, the innovation scene has changed for the better, with Kenya currently having  300 licensed drones according to recent surveys. This measurable uptake can be attributed to the diversification of the tech industry, which with time has adapted to accommodate societal and commercial needs. @iLabAfrica is providing capacity development on drone technology in the following economic sectors: agriculture, drought management, sanitation of areas infected during the COVID-19 onset, safety inceptions, film & photography, surveillance, and product delivery.

In spite of this progress, the uptake of drone technology has been impeded. The slow growth can be attributed to policy restrictions and high pricing on licenses, as well as heavy levies on the importation of drones. Steve Gitahi of @iLabAfrica reckons that there should be standardization of policies around drone licensing stating, “If a drone costs KES. 30,000 why should the licensing cost KES.60,000? This is not inclusive of the  Remote Operators Certificate (ROC) issued by the licensing body Kenya Civil Aviation Authority( KCAA) which comes at an annual fee of KES. 80,000 per year, not forgetting that the authorization for flying a drone per day comes at a fee of  KES.2,500.”

In addition to this, the absence of drone training facilities in Kenya needs review with there only being 9 training facilities that have churned out 450 drone pilots in Kenya, a success made possible after the lift of the regulatory ban on drones in 2020.

These challenges can, however, be overcome by inculcating an element of technology, research, sensitization on the efficiency of drone technology uses, and localization of the UAV to suit the needs of the Kenyan market in different sectors such as agriculture, and health among others. The innovation and research center was recently part of training for farmers on the use of the technology. It was a  one-week training course in partnership with Future Water on drone piloting and educating them to read map information about crops through reports generated by the drone land mapping software. This one-week course was aimed at promoting drone usage in Kenyan Agriculture under the TWIGA Project Foundation. 

To further participate in the advancement of the technology, @iLabAfrica recently participated in a conference convened by the German Embassy AHK in early September of this year. The event was aimed at identifying potential areas of collaboration between the Kenyan and German drone companies while seeking avenues for knowledge exchange and capacity-building frameworks. Among the participants present were German Drone Investors such as AGATHON International and SBS Systems for business solutions GMBH. 

The Innovation and Research Center University Director Mr. Emmanuel  Kweyu mentioned that Research and Innovation Centers are instrumental in developing and improving drone applications. This is because they can be used as testing grounds for research while offering training on the efficiency of UAV devices to users in different sectors. Mr. Kweyu further stated that the Research and Innovation Center would be instrumental in addressing fears around drones in regard to the exploitation of Intellectual Property (IP) as this had become a major challenge in Kenya. “The uptake of drones in Africa is becoming increasingly common with drones being used for basic commercial needs like product delivery of goods such as medical supplies. This has been really successful in countries such as Rwanda which use drones to transport blood products and medicines to critical access hospitals and remote regions around the country,” Mr. Kweyu mentioned.

The rise of innovation has brought about hope for drone technology in Kenya with many organizations integrating it into their operations to solve challenges such as drought, landslide evacuations, and medical evacuations among others, a major improvement in that arena. This drive can further be improved by players in the innovation drone ecosystem carrying out joint lobbying with the Kenyan government to sensitize the importance of drones in the economy while urging the government to lower levies and costs around the importation of drones and pilot certifications. There is also a need for research centers such as @iLabAfrica to become testing grounds for enhancing innovation, research, and development around UAV technology through interactive partnerships with corporates, universities, and industries among others.  

How to – Storytelling for start ups.

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Storytelling for your startup

“If your stories are all about your products and services, that’s not storytelling. It’s a brochure. Give yourself permission to make the story bigger.” – Jay Baer, content marketing strategist and keynote speaker.

Many startups often confuse storytelling with showcasing statistics during their pitches or even giving their overall strategy, while on the contrary, it is about sharing your journey in the most authentic way to you that relates with your employees, customers, users, and stakeholders. Unbeknown to many, business storytelling generates a high return on investment, with a recent survey revealing it produced 28.06 more times ROI for startups that had actively engaged in marketing their brand through their story.

As part of the mentorship journey for the Standard Chartered Women In Tech Program currently in its 5th year, Standard Chartered and @iBizAfrica  recently convened the first town hall in the month of September which was themed “Storytelling for Startups”. The keynote speaker for the session was Ms. Ciiru Waweru, CEO of Funkidz and FunHomez, a creative serial Kenyan entrepreneur with a passion for mentoring youth in entrepreneurship. Having begun FunHomez and Funkidz ten years ago, she is passionate about being part of a positive change in Africa for young entrepreneurs who comprise Kenya’s “jua kali” or informal sector, to push them to become a continent of industrialists. At Fun Homes and Funkidz, they utilize 3-D technology to print designs on the wooden tables, furniture, and decor pieces that are displayed at the Lavington showhouse. 

Through the town hall session, a space was created for open dialogue and candid conversations among the participants which provided an avenue for the entrepreneurs to learn and build on their experiences while improving on their vulnerabilities. 

@iBizAfrica Incubation Manager, Ms. Ludovica Ochieng lauded the Women In Tech Program stating that “As an incubator and academic institution, platforms like these offer spaces for entrepreneurs to gain first-hand experience, network and acquire knowledge with seasoned entrepreneurs who are already in the industry such as Ciiru. As Strathmore, we look forward to hosting more similar events for women-led startups to help them scale their businesses from local to global brands.”

Present at the event was Standard Chartered Bank Head of Transaction Banking, Makabelo Malumane who stated “As a business, you must look at your story’s context and learn how to sell your story. People buy you first before they buy the product.” 

The conversations were thought-provoking and insightful with Ms. Ciiru Waweru sharing insights on the various ways of telling their brand story in a credible and authentic way but also in a manner that generated social impact. Below are some of the key takeaways from the discussion:

  • Don’t overcomplicate it, just start.
    Most business owners often overcomplicate the process of starting their venture, majorly owing to self-doubt and limiting thoughts. Entrepreneurs should begin with the resources available and tackle the problems as they come along.
  • Be authentic with your product – Fall in love with solving the problem, not the product.
    Most people are afraid to create products that they believe in owing to the fact that they are afraid of going against popular opinion. Being authentic creates an emotional connection with your customers, employees, and stakeholders because it allows you to outline your vision, and uphold your brand mission while taking into account the needs of your market.
  • Learn how to adapt your business according to your customer’s needs.
    According to a recent survey, 33 percent of customers abandon a business owing to a lack of product personalization. The same study also found that companies lost around 32 percent of their customers owing to poor customer service. Customer experience is therefore instrumental in growing brand loyalty and is sometimes responsible for 49 percent of impulse buying purchases.
  • Collaboration with other Kenyan startups.
    Startups needed to complement each other and promote one another. Referring to the Buy Kenya Build Kenya initiative, Startups are encouraged to locally source for their products in Kenya and Africa as a region. This strategy would increase competitiveness and consumption of locally produced goods and services and in return scale their businesses. 

This session was timely and instrumental in growing and encouraging women-led startups present in the previous cohorts in The Standard Chartered Women In Tech Program. If startups want to succeed, they must learn how to tell their stories so as to attract investors. According to recent research by Quartz, Africa is attracting more funding, with  Kenya women-led startups attracting two-thirds of $408 million.

Kenya Launches 2050 Calculator to Advance Climate Change Mitigation in East Africa

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Seated from left to right: Andrew Wakahiu (Secretary, President’s Delivery Unit), Dr. Vincent Ogutu (Vice Chancellor Designate, Strathmore University), Maj. Gen (Rtd). Gordon Kihalangwa (Principal Secretary Ministry of Energy)and Anne Angwenyi (Climate and Environment Advisor, at Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office, British High Commission) together with the KCERT 2050 industry leads.

Kenya’s Ministry of Energy, the British High Commission Nairobi, and Strathmore University have jointly launched the Kenya Carbon Emission Reduction Tool (KCERT 2050), a bespoke energy and emissions model to assist Kenya in achieving its climate goals.

The interactive energy model – the first in East Africa – was delivered under the UK Government’s international 2050 Calculator programme, which is funded by the UK’s International Climate Finance, and led by global engineering, management and development consultancy, Mott MacDonald, and a consortium which includes Imperial College London, Climact and Ricardo.

KCERT 2050 allows users to trial options for reducing climate change-inducing carbon emissions at a faster rate and to build a pathway that meets long-term emission targets to 2050 and beyond. It can be used to support policy-making to allow governments to increase national action on climate change and strengthen ambition in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement.

KCERT 2050 will play a key role in helping policy-makers, energy producers and consumers, including the public, in Kenya to understand the energy and emissions related choices they are making.  It also provides a platform for engaging in dialogues on the challenges and opportunities of the future energy system and the responses to climate change. The project gives Kenya the opportunity to pioneer climate mitigation approaches across the East African region.

H.E Jane Marriott British High Commissioner to Kenya said: “As part of strengthening our UK-Kenya Strategic Partnership on climate action, the British High Commission welcomes the launch of the Kenya Carbon Emissions Reduction Tool 2050. This tool, which is a first in East Africa, will support government departments in Kenya to design and deliver evidence based, inclusive policies on emissions reductions, energy access, and matching energy supply and demand. I look forward to Kenya acting as a pioneer in championing the use of this innovative tool that will provide options for implementing Kenya’s emission reduction strategies and achieving net-zero development pathways by 2050.”

In his remarks, the Principal Secretary Ministry of Energy, Maj. Gen (Rtd). Dr. Gordon Kihalangwa noted that, “Energy is about security, about development, but if we use it badly, it will affect us negatively. Kenya has complied with the Paris Agreement by submitting a revised Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). A country like this is privileged to use renewables, and the tool will help us work out how we will get to net-zero by 2050.  This KCERT 2050 will be used to support the reduction of emissions and create resilience to climate change in the energy sector in Kenya.”

Dr John Olukuru, Head of Data Science and Analytics at Strathmore University and Lead KCERT Modeller added“The KCERT 2050 is an important data driven policy making tool in climate change. It will help every Kenyan, expert or non-expert, to engage in a well-informed climate change debate. The calculator considers all sectors, stakeholders’ input and various scenarios that provide enormous volume of data and hence sets a foundation to applying AI and machine learning to monitor and decrease carbon emissions, streamline operations to empower every policy maker to recognize that climate action provides an opportunity to create value by tapping into new markets and meeting growing demand for low-carbon plus greener services.

David Orr, Emerging Markets Trade and Investment Lead for Mott MacDonald and Programme Country Manager for Kenya, noted: “It has been such a pleasure working with the team to build the KCERT 2050 tool. Over the coming years, the tool will play a core role in advancing Kenya’s net zero transition, inspiring policy-makers across East Africa.”

Dr Onesmus Mwabonje, a Research Fellow at Imperial College London’s Centre for Environmental Policy and core member of the Consortium team for Kenya, added: “KCERT will support and stimulate the decarbonisation debate in Kenya, helping to break down silos and generate the consensus across government departments needed to effectively combat, mitigate and adapt to climate change. The decision support capacity that the International 2050 Calculator programme has developed on the modelling of complex transitions and technological options will have a lasting impact in the country and beyond.”

The KCERT is available at http://kcert.ilabafrica.ac.ke/

Networking Session by Standard Chartered Bank London Group Corporate Affairs, Brand and Marketing Group

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“Success doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You’re only as good as the people you work with and the people you work for”.

For @iBizAfrica, collaboration is one of the driving forces that has enabled us to launch successful startups while increasing outreach and impact on our programs. In line with this @iBizAfrica had the pleasure of being hosted by Standard Chartered London Group Corporate Affairs Brand and Marketing Group in the month of June .

It was a timely event themed  The Future of Women In Tech” and had an insightful panel discussion with speaker such as Claire Dixon – Group Head, Corporate Affairs, Brand & Marketing Standard Chartered Bank , Makabelo Malumane – Head of Transactional Banking SC, Regina Mukiri – Head of Sustainability at SC, Diana Mutua – PR Manager @iLabAfrica Naomi Monari of Benacare Mx , Eunice Maina of Bismart Insurance, Yolanda Odida of Pure Purple.

The networking session gave participants a chance to discuss their experiences as women in the Kenyan entrepreneurship innovation scenes while reviewing   world trends around funding for female-led startups. Through alumni  sharing their  experiences on the Standard Chartered Women In tech program with different stakeholders present, it allowed different perspectives around  business life cycles to be shared such as challenges faced when setting up a business, remodeling of the business structure and understanding the market.

With the increase in women -led startups, there is a need to have channels for them to exchange ideas while encouraging each other to succeed. At the same time, get access to the market and capital to steer their businesses forward. 

As @iBizAfrica, we remain grateful to partners such as Standard Chartered who continue to reinforce the importance of scaling the gains of female-led entrepreneurial programs in Kenya and giving women-led businesses a chance at success!

Standard Chartered Women In Tech Update

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For many women, access to capital stands as one of the many road blocks for startup ventures, with surveys showing that startups founded by men receiving 96 percent while those for women received a mere 0.96 percent with the remainder being allocated to mixed groups. Funding is not the only hurdle that women have to face, but also representation in the Entrepreneurship Innovation  sector, with recent surveys from Briter Bridges Kenya, showing that women take up 9 percent of decision making positions while men comprise 75 percent of these teams, with other startups with a mix of male and female founders accounting for 14 percent.

With the  Standard Chartered’s Women In Tech program, the playing field can be leveled and the gender disparities can be minimized. Having been piloted in 2017,it  has attracted over 1800 applicants and trained over 40 entrepreneurs while funding over 20 women-led startups.Through the multi-pronged approach of the program, women entrepreneurs have received access to mentorship, coaching, practical hands-on support as well as funding opportunities worth USD 10,000. 

Being @iBizAfrica’s 5th cohort of the program we are truly excited with the tremendous  growth of the program over the last 5 years. This year alone, we received a total of 364  applicants from sectors such as agribusiness, microfinance, healthcare, skin care,retail and fashion among others.  In three series of events over the course of June we began the shortlisting process with a three-day Bootcamp and pitching session. During this period, the startups were coached on different topics such as Customer Discovery, Business Modeling and Financial Projections as well as Budgeting. The selection process was competitive and intensive, shortlisting the start ups to 40, followed by 15 in the second round and eventually the top 10 who got an opportunity to be incubated @iBizAfrica.

When  

Below are the top 10 companies 

1. Pure Purple: A contemporary footwear and accessories brand based in Nairobi Kenya that adds premium value to locally sourced leather, thus creating communal impact.

2. SIAGO: An e-commerce fashion store that makes and sells unique, luxury, free-size dresses targeting the 30+-year-old, plus-size, career woman.

3. Aurora Health Systems:  A medical tech company developing devices that can transmit real-time data to a smartphone to improve outcomes for cardiovascular patients.

4. Sow Precise: A farm management system tailor-made for the African farmers to communicate with farm laborers and help them keep track of farming activities.

5. Learning Differently Limited: A learning intervention platform tailor-made to support students/learners with learning disabilities. The courses/training equips parents, teachers, and caregivers with practical learnings that they can incorporate to support their learners.

6. GoBEBA Everything Ltd: GoBEBA offers online retail of household essentials delivered within an hour. They use technology to provide convenience, reduce costs as well as use machine learning for demand planning and delivery optimization.

7. ON MY MIND: A Women’s startup supporting breastfeeding moms with low milk supply to meet their breastfeeding goals, while also promoting their health and wellness by value addition to organic and wholesome products i.e. (herbal teas and lactation cookies)

8. Keyara Botanicals: A skincare label that creates products that take care of your skin naturally with raw materials sourced from African farmers which are rich and of healing quality.

9. Sello Designs: A social business that designs and makes sustainable, durable, and timeless bags using leather and kitenge fabric.

10. DigiPath Africa: A Digital Marketing agency that helps organizations and individuals navigate their way online and take their products and services to existing/ new customers using digital marketing.

The incubation process will see these 10 startups go through a 12-week training and access mentorship, incubation, with the final top 5 receiving funding worth USD 10,000 each. As @iBizAfrica we can’t wait to see the growth hacks that will be provided to these startups through lessons provided by  our in-house network of trainers,mentors and coaches. Once they complete the 3 month incubation program they will be part of the Alumni network  of   successful startups that have passed through our incubation center.

Academia as the key enabler for innovation entrepreneurship

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“Learning and innovation go hand in hand”- William Pollard.

This is especially applicable to Africa’s budding education entrepreneurship ecosystem which is growing at a fast rate, with surveys revealing that 22% of Africa’s working age population have started businesses. As impressive as this may sound, mortality rates of startups still remain at a high with 70 percent of them shutting down less than 20 months in business, owing to lack of industry knowledge and technical support.Higher Education Institutions (HEI) play an active role in supporting entrepreneurs  be better equipped with skills and knowledge within the ever changing   ecosystem.

With this in mind, how can these HEIs work together with other entrepreneurship stakeholders to upscale  the ideas of budding university entrepreneurs at an early stage? 

In June 2022, @iBizAfrica, StrathmoreUniversity was honored to have been part of a roundtable discussion at the Ashesi Education Collaborative Annual Convening Conference. The conversation was focused on highlighting entrepreneurship ecosystem opportunities at a continental level while examining the role HEIs   enablers such as iBizAfrica-Strathmore University ,private sector players and innovation hubs could play in catalyzing the growth of the sector. @iBizAfrica participated in a panel session to discuss   Contributions and Expectations of Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Actors: Boosting Collaborative Relationships and was  represented by  the Incubation Manager Ludovica Ochieng, alongside Dr Abenna Engmann  Manager at Ashesi Entrepreneurship Center, Dr Kagonya Awori– Senior Applied Scientist at  Microsoft Africa Research Institute, Nanko Madu Director of Programmes at Afrilabs and Mercy Kimalat Chief Executive Officer at the Association of Startup and SME Enablers of Kenya.

The session was engaging and informative with the following key takeaways:

  • There is  a need to strengthen industry and academia collaboration in solving real problems through research data that can eventually be commercialized by industry players.
  • Mentorship frameworks within education collaborative networks needed to be strengthened in order to enable HEIs within Africa to support each other.
  • Creation of innovation hubs within HEIs would enable capitalization of strengths within the  educational collaborative networks.

With the  evolving trends of entrepreneurship transitioning from necessity based entrepreneurship  to innovative based entrepreneurship,there will be a need to have collaborative synergies of the different actors of the ecosystem to position Africa HEIs as the leaders in innovation.

@iBizAfrica is keen on partnering with other HEIs and entrepreneurship stakeholders to ensure that the amazing innovations of youth entrepreneurs in Kenya and Africa,are showcased to the international ecosystem  as solutions  to the socio-environmental problems.

Caption : Participants at the Ashesi Education Collaborative Convening pose for a picture alongside Strathmore Vice Chancellor Dr Vincent Ogutu (Center) and @iBizAfrica Incubation Manager Ludovica Ochieng

A NEW WAVE OF FARMING

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Kenya’s agricultural sector is dubbed as the backbone of the economy, contributing to 33% of Kenya’s gross domestic product and employing more than 40% of the total population. Improving the industry would increase the economic value of the country and the standards of the general working-class citizens involved in agriculture today. 

Organizations such as FutureWater have made advancements in this sector and have come up with the project ‘MapYourCrop’ geared towards improving crop observation for better food and crop performance through the use of drones.

Crop observation can be difficult for farmers, especially when observing crops on a large area of land. FutureWater decided that flying sensors/drones could be utilized in making crop monitoring easier, as drones would be able to capture images of farmland with an ‘unprecedented level of detail’. Drones capture images and these images allow farmers to track the ‘vegetation status’ of their crops. With this data, farmers are able to easily identify areas where their land needs more attention in terms of irrigation, fertilization, or weeding.

FutureWater, in partnership with @iLabAfrica- Strathmore University through the TWIGA project (a partnership between organizations involved in environmental research and consultation and working together towards providing ‘unavailable information’ on weather, water, and climate for sub-Saharan Africa) hosted a training session focused on educating software engineers on the basics of drone flying, image capturing, and crop monitoring. Trainees were introduced to the basics of drone flying and the different types of drones used in imagery viewing, image collection, and data reporting.

The trainees also learned about the safety precautions to follow when using/ flying drones. Part of the training allowed participants to visit the Ruera coffee farm located in Kiambu county, where they had a hands on experience of flying drones. At the coffee farm, they were also able to acquire and process crop images, monitor crop stress, track crop performance and identify areas in the farm that needed more attention in regards to watering, fertilization, weeding, and killing crops pests. This training is meant to prepare software engineers in future research projects in agriculture.

“If drones are adopted in agriculture, farmers can utilize them in crop farming to mitigate a series of problems crop farmers face today. Today’s farmers need to learn and keep up with technological advancements as this will further their production when it comes to crop farming,”said Stephen Ngetitch- IoT Software Developer @iLabAfrica.

He further added that “through these technological advancements, farmers will be able to track soil fertility, identify soil erosion in their lands, monitor crop performance, reduce farm expenses, save time and as a result increase production of better crops.

The one-week training instilled confidence in the trainees about their new drone piloting skills; having learned the basic foundations of handling flying sensors and gained more knowledge in the agribusiness and farming sector. They were enthusiastic about handling more projects that use technology in agriculture.

For more information on TWIGA and its project/project partners visit: https://website.twiga-h2020.eu/.

For More information on the training write to:info@futurewater.nl.

To learn and know more about @iLabAfrica visit: http://www.ilabafrica.ac.ke/.

10 women led businesses picked for incubation and training in the 2022 Standard Chartered Women in Tech Incubator

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  • Women in Technology Incubator Kenya is Africa’s leading incubator programme for female founded businesses, aligning with calls for more diversity in technology, entrepreneurship and for more opportunities for women to develop entrepreneurial and leadership excellence.
  • @iBizAfrica- Strathmore University and Standard Chartered have selected top 10 women led business for the 5th cohort of the program
  • 10 Kenyan companies will access 12 weeks of incubation which will culminate in 5 of them getting  KShs 1,000,000 million in funding to grow their businesses.

30th June 2022, Nairobi Kenya: Standard Chartered Bank in partnership with @iBizAfrica- Strathmore University have shortlisted 10 start- ups for the Women in tech program. The Program targets women led start-ups that are looking to scale up their business through technology.

Standard Chartered Women in Tech (WiT) support female-led entrepreneurial teams with business management training, mentoring and seed funding. This year’s top 10 teams were selected from a pool of over 350 start-ups that had applied for the program. The entrepreneurs will go through 12 weeks of mentorship @iBizAfrica where they will be offered expert training in the areas of business idea conceptualization, strategy formulation and marketing which is key in moving the businesses from incubation to sustainable ventures.

Dr. Joseph Sevilla, Director of @iBizAfrica- Strathmore University said: “This incubator program female led Startups in the ICT sector are envisaged to transform Kenya through innovation. “It’s remarkable how far we have been able to come on this journey of nurturing women-led entrepreneurial visions from the idea stage to marketable and scalable ventures through our coaching and mentoring sessions on entrepreneurial skills. This program, which is in its 5th cohort, has helped transform Kenyan women-led startups into fully-fledged businesses that are thriving and contributing to the country’s economy.”  Dr. Joseph Sevilla, Strathmore University.

Since its inception the Women in tech program has attracted over 1,800 applicants, trained over 40 entrepreneurs and funded 20 women-led startups from the through partnership with the Standard Chartered Bank. The program seeks to further educate, mentor, coach and fund more African female entrepreneurs and innovators whilst also providing women-led startups with practical support to grow and develop their businesses beyond East Africa.

Commenting on the program, Joyce Kibe, Head Corporate Affairs, Brand and Marketing Kenya and EA said: “The programme is designed to help address gender disparity in the technology sector and to use technology to tackle social challenges faced by communities. They are an important part of our entrepreneurship offering within Futuremakers by Standard Chartered, our global initiative to tackle inequality and promote economic inclusion and aligns with our stand to lift participation by creating opportunities for women to contribute to the society and economy”.

The enterprises were shortlisted based on criteria such as demonstrated capacity to execute, clearly defined roles, balanced skill set (team lead, business development, product development and marketing), leveraging technology, availability of Market opportunity and potential socioeconomic impact in Kenya.

‘’Representation matters and more so in the technology industry which continues to be a key driver and enabler of growth and innovation. However, women, who constitute a higher percentage of the global population are still underrepresented in this sector owing to financial and capacity barriers. Over the last 4 years, the Women in Tech program has successfully contributed to filling this gap through capacity building and financing, which has seen participants of the program register sustained growth, create jobs and foster innovation through technology. We look forward to supporting this year’s cohort and congratulate the 10 businesses that have been shortlisted,’’ added Ms. Kibe.

Ms. Diana Mutua, Public Relations Manager @iBizAfrica- Strathmore University said: “Access to finance for women has been and still continues to remain a challenge, with a recent study indicating that 68 per cent of Women-led MSMEs in developing countries lack adequate access to finance, representing a 1.5 trillion financing gap. Women-led enterprises account for 48 per cent of all micro-small and Medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) which contribute 20 per cent to the overall GDP of Kenya. When we launched this year our theme was “Advancing Global Trends in women-owned businesses”. These trends combined with capacity building, coaching and mentoring will provide opportunities for startup businesses to upscale provide better product solutions”

The Women in Tech Incubator Program is committed to being digital by design, to support female entrepreneurs with technology to grow their businesses. 

The 10 enterprises who will be starting the 12 weeks of mentorship @iBizAfricathe Women in Tech 2022 are: –

1. Pure Purple: A contemporary footwear and accessories brand based in Nairobi Kenya that adds premium value to locally sourced leather, thus creating communal impact.

2. SIAGO: An e-commerce fashion store that makes and sells unique, luxury, free-size dresses targeting the 30+-year-old, plus-size, career woman.

3.Aurora Health Systems: A wearable medical device that uses wireless technology to continuously monitor heart rate and abnormal ECG findings.  Data is generated in real-time and linked to smartphones for a period of 21 days thus preventing acute cardiac conditions.

4. SowPrecise: A farm management system tailor-made for the African farmers to communicate with farm labourers and help them keep track of farming activities.

5.Learning Differently Limited: A learning intervention platform tailor-made to support students/learners with learning disabilities. The courses/training equips parents, teachers, and caregivers with practical learnings that they can incorporate to support their learners.

6.GoBEBA Everything Ltd: GoBEBA offers online retail of household essentials delivered within an hour. They use technology to provide convenience, reduce costs as well as use machine learning for demand planning and delivery optimization.

7. ON MY MIND: A Women’s startup supporting breastfeeding moms with low milk supply to meet their breastfeeding goals, while also promoting their health and wellness by value addition to organic and wholesome products i.e. (herbal teas and lactation cookies)

8. Keyara Botanics: A skincare label that creates products that take care of your skin naturally with raw materials sourced from African farmers which are rich and of healing quality.

9. Sello Designs: A social business that designs and makes sustainable, durable, and timeless bags using leather and kitenge fabric.

10. DigiPath Africa: A Digital Marketing agency that helps organizations and individuals navigate their way online and take their products and services to existing/ new customers using digital marketing.


About @iBizAfrica, Strathmore University

@iBizAfrica is the business incubator of Strathmore University, a leading private University in Kenya. The incubator since 2012 provides a nurturing environment that builds on the potential of the youth to develop innovative solutions and businesses that work for the common good in society. @iBizAfrica over the years has provided over 1200 startup companies with training, advisory, mentorship, coaching, networking opportunities, access to seed capital and investors.  We prepare startups to be investor-ready and launch into the market through our custom incubation and acceleration programs.

For more information, please visit www.ibizafrica.ac.ke.

Follow us on our social media pages @iBizAfrica on Twitter and Facebook

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STRATHMORE UNIVERSITY HOSTS 2ND EDITION OF DATA SCIENCE WEEK

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Strathmore University’s @iLabAfrica hosted the second edition of the Strathmore Data Science Week at the Microsoft Auditorium, in what was a week-long event that showcased the real-life application of data science across the continent, including work done through the collaboration between the University of Bristol – Jean Golding Institute and the Data Science Unit at Strathmore University.

The event attracted over 50 participants interested in Data Science who were in attendance and it involved a series of talks, workshops, and presentation sessions among students, researchers and professionals who delved into diverse areas such as health, agriculture, and climate challenges.

The Data Week provided an environment that fostered in-person networking and development as well as blended delivery of some sessions, which increased the reach and accessibility of the event.

Speaking at the event, Dr. Samuel Maina – Senior Applied Scientist, Microsoft Africa Research Institute (MARI) noted that everyone wants a long, happy and healthy life, and scientists are doing their best to make this possible. This also applies to the other societal challenges such as food security, sustainable agriculture, forestry, maritime and inland water. With the world population set to reach 9 billion by 2050, scientists are trying their best to find ways to radically change our approach to production, consumption, processing, storage, recycling and waste disposal while minimising the environmental impact.

“Expertise in technology for emerging markets research can help address some of the societal challenges such as health and wellbeing, food security, and sustainable agriculture.

The demand for data science skills has driven the establishment of data science courses available through a variety of instructional channels, from certificate programs such as the one @iLabAfrica, with multiple disciplinary homes, including iSchools and computer science and statistics departments,” said Dr. Maina.

He further stated that data intensive emerging technologies manifest in learning and research in several ways, offering routes to impact student success and transform the research process.

The Strathmore Data Week, an annual grassroots training initiative provides an avenue for Data Science training, exposure, and mentorship to students, researchers and professionals who are interested in developing practical skills in areas such as education, health, agriculture and climate.

This year’s theme ‘Cultivating Data Science Research in Africa’ is set to play a key role in addressing many of the continent’s challenges.

Also at the event, Ms. Muthoni Wanyoike – Co-founder of Nairobi Women Learning & Data science highlighted that sometimes it might seem like technology only causes problems or complicates things. People yearn for a simpler life; without cell phones beeping, traffic jams, and dangerous weapons. But the truth is, science and technology have solved a lot of society’s problems and will continue to do so in the future.

“We are living at interesting times where we should think about the problems we are faced with and how we can use technology to solve these problems,” said Ms. Wanyoike.

Attracting Data Science professionals, academic practitioners, students and members from the community, the second edition of Data Science Week was bigger and better. The edition explored innovative ways of analysing data and how it is communicated to a wide audience, including those with little experience with data.

In addressing the continent’s challenges, Mr. Christian Kilonzo, Analyst – Development Initiatives said, “DI advocates for creation of functional data ecosystems and a culture of data use by making official data open and encouraging the uptake and use of data by decision-makers at national and subnational level.”

The Strathmore Data Week was also used as a platform to launch a Women in Data Science forum which will be used to increase and sustain the participation of women in data science training initiatives such as providing scholarships for female post-doctorate students researchers to participate in the data week.

Ms. Lilian Onyango,  Manager, Data & Analytics – KPMG East Africa said, “When we are gathering data for the purpose of research, we need to get consent from the people in the sense that there should be transparency on who is getting that data and what platform we are going to use to share the data.”

This fellowship will go a long way towards strengthening collaborative ties between Strathmore and the University of Bristol’s – Jean Golding Institute. Further, it aims to provide additional links between Strathmore and the Jean Golding Institute’s existing research network in the rural development and agriculture domain, thus expanding Strathmore’s international research network.

This includes collaborators at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in the Data Week program through exposure to their Rural Household Multi-Indicator Survey dataset and pipeline development model.