Whenever one asks about innovation hubs in Kenya the obvious names pop up. Mlab, iHub and NaiLab are probably the well known innovation hubs. They have provided a launch pad for Kenya’s brightest and most promising startups. The necessity and importance of innovation hubs cannot be stressed enough. Our industrious and creative Kenyan youth need an enabling environment where their latent ideas and skills can be tapped and transformed into meaningful ventures.
However the fact that all the major hubs are in Nairobi means a majority of youth outside of the capotal miss out on the opportunities that the hubs present. But that is about to change as a few enterprising Kenyans have launched innovation hubs in Eldoret and Kisumu.
1. LakeHub – Kisumu.
Lakehub is a innovation hub created for techies so as to tap the potential that western Kenya and its environs has to offer. As they state on their website, http://www.lakehub.co.ke
“Many of you might be asking what is Lake Hub? Essentially, LakeHub is the idea that Kenya has more to offer the global tech community than what can be found in Nairobi. What iHub, 88mph, Nailab etc. have done in Nairobi is incredible, but our thought is that Western Kenya has a considerable amount of talent, interest, and ability to meaningfully contribute in the tech-space and to build tech-oriented businesses that will be to Kenya’s benefit. The thought is that there is enough interest and momentum towards technology at the moment that creating a space, support system, and community that fosters entrepreneurship and technology now will pay-off and further build interest and ability in the region over the coming years.”
What is interesting about Lakehub is that they do not survive using large budgets but have build strategic partnerships with the local community so as to support their activities. They partner with different universities and institutions around Western Kenya, by associating with the computer science department of the respective institutions. There is also a regular community of members who turn up at the normal hangouts on Saturdays which form also our community.
At Maseno University Lakehub partners with the ICT Guild group which is composed of computer science students & Business students that have an interest in technology. At Masinde Muliro University, Lakehub partners with the computer science department targeting people who are interested in technology.
Apart from partnering with schools Lakehub also partners with Kahawa Na Kadhalika Popularly Known as KnK, a Cafe Located At Nakumatt Megaplaza and Megacity in Kisumu. KnK Provides Lakehub with an open space at their cafés when the need arises. Membership at LakeHub is free to whoever is willing to sacrifice their time. Lakehub’s survival model goes to show that innovation hubs don’t need funding to survive but rather strategic partnerships with local communities can go a long way towards ensuring their success and continued existence.
“Dlab is an upcoming ICT incubation Centre (NGO) started in September 2013 under deepAfrica.com, a company specializing in web hosting services. It is located in Eldoret Uasin Gishu County along Uganda road, Pacifica Global Village. The major role of the NGO is to encourage and enhance technological innovation in the ICT field in the North Rift and Western Region. To do this the institution is developing a user community under which to operate. It is expected to continually grow and is based on good relationship with the user community,” states their website.
With the influx of such creative spaces all over the country it is only a matter of time before we hear about amazing startups and ventures. So if you are in the vicinity of these tech spaces stop by and share a few insights with them or better yet join them in their novel pursuits.
Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.