NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 24 – Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Kenyan tech startups still managed to raise Sh21.4 billion in funding in 2020, taking the top spot in the Continent.
This is according to the Association of Countrywide Innovation Hubs (ACIH) Kenya Chairman who attributes this to a socio-professional environment conducive to work and investment.
Speaking during the sidelines of The Great Covid-19 Innovation Challenge Demo Day, ACIH Chairman David Ogiga said though the past year was tough, a lot of Kenyans showed creativity in birthing new ideas that are solving local problems.
He says going forward; startup growth is expected to double in 2021.
‘Mentorship is what is needed to accelerate the growth of Startups in Kenya. With continued support from our partners, we will continue offering mentorship and linkages to the industry, networks that will enable these innovators scale,” he said.
The Demo Day saw over 15 startups who won the Hackathon were able to showcase their products and services. The Hackathon was in partnership with Konza Technopolis with financial support from UK Kenya Tech Hub, UNDP, US Alumni Exchange.
Walid Badawi, the UNDP Resident Representative in Kenya, while acknowledging the role of innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship in post Covid reconstruction, urged everyone to look to the future to build forward better from covid 19.
“Let’s continue building with the same spirit of entrepreneurship, of energy, of optimism and of hope for a brighter future for it is such types of innovations as witnessed today that will be tomorrow’s currency of economic growth and prosperity for the young people of Kenya,” added Badawi.
On her part UK Kenya Tech Hub Director Sheena Raikundalia says the challenges facing startups in Kenya are varied, including right policy frameworks, sufficient resources, partnerships and networks to support their growth and establishment.
“These innovators’ journey just started, to stay in market and grow their scope still requires our support. We will continue to partner with the Association to help the startups reach their full potential, “she added.
In his address, Christopher Machin, the Cultural Affairs Officer at the US Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, called for the need “add to the conversations by listening to the innovators… and furnish the innovations”. He Urged the UN experts to “use the environment, people around you for inspiration to keep the conversation moving”.
The CEO, Konza Technopolis, John Tanui, highlighted the importance of Konza towards positioning Kenya as a global hub for innovation and technology; “With the support of the Government, Konza will be an excellent location with world class infrastructure plus smart city components…building Innovations and knowledge economy, this will be our focus going forward,” he noted.