Wednesday, April 28, 2010

East African Strides in Innovation & Venture Capital

This blog roll is to review some recent strides in innovation on the East side of the continent. Most of the activities being centered around Kenya and Kenyans. My Tanzanian, Rwandan, Ugandan and Burundi brethren need to pull their weight (Okay, I kid)


iHub – Nairobi’s Innovation Hub for the technology community – is here! It’s an open space (actually physical..and of course virtual too) for the technologists, investors, tech companies and hackers in the area. This space is a tech community facility with a focus on young entrepreneurs, web and mobile phone programmers and designers. It is part open community workspace (co-working), part investor and VC hub and part incubator.

The iHub will have a redundant 10Mbs connection, hardwired and WiFi, and it’s freely available to any tech person in Nairobi to use once they become members. Membership is free, our only requirement is that you are indeed involved in the tech space as a programmer, web designer or mobile application developer.

The new iHub’s location is going to be on the 4th floor of the new Bishop Magua Centre on Ngong Road (directly opposite the Uchumi Hyper). It’s said to be an amazing location, with quick access to public transportation, food and the rest of Nairobi. It launched in March 2010.

This is clearly designed to be a network support infrastructure..more ups to its facilitators.  This is a smart way of applying grants/aids. 


According to their website,

Ushahidi, which means "testimony" in Swahili, is a website that was initially developed to map reports of violence in Kenya after the post-election fallout at the beginning of 2008. Ushahidi's roots are in the collaboration of Kenyan citizen journalists during a time of crisis. The website was used to map incidents of violence and peace efforts throughout the country based on reports submitted via the web and mobile phone. This initial deployment of Ushahidi had 45,000 users in Kenya, and was the catalyst for us realizing there was a need for a platform based on it, which could be use by others around the world.
Since then we have grown from an ad hoc group of volunteers to a focused organization. The team is comprised of individuals with a wide span of experience ranging from human rights work to software development. We have also built a strong team of volunteer developers in primarily in Africa, but also Europe and the U.S.
Ushahidi has had an excellent press...especially on CNN. It is its application in a wide range of disasters in Haiti, Chile and Kenya that has brought it fame and Press. Am still not clear on what the sustainability of the project is beyond grant in aids. I mean commercially. 

Fanisi Ventures 

Fanisi Venture Capital Fund is a venture capital fund established in Luxembourg to work with competitive and sustainable East African businesses, whose ambitions are to grow and run their operations to global best practice standards. 
Ayisi Leads Fanisi

Founded in 2009 by the Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries (Norfund) and Amana Capital Limited, the Fund focuses on a segment of the market that has to date been outside the ambit of most venture funds in the East African market. Fanisi makes equity investments of $0.5 million - $3 million per transaction in high growth businesses, including start ups and early stage companies, and is committed to working with East African entrepreneurs to build world class businesses with significant development impact on the economies in the region. 

The fund is rumored to have raised up to $100m from global investors including IFC ($7.5m) and plenty of others. The fund is led by Ayisi Makatiani  


Clearly, the new innovation paradigm drives the concepts emerging in East Africa..see diagram only worry is that disorganized chaos will not become an organized know what I mean? Microsoft Style.