The founding of M-Pesa in 2007, the mobile payment titan, put Nairobi on the map as an entrepreneurial locale. The unparalleled success of M-Pesa has inspired many young Kenyans to follow in its footsteps and take entrepreneurial risks. The city possesses a wide range of resources for young startups, including accelerator 88MPH and incubator i-Hub. Nairobi also boasts affordable engineering talent and a significant expat community which contributes expertise, as well as occasional competition for international funding. Despite these virtues, Nairobi’s relative lack of an angel community and capital resources have led successful ventures to seek greater rewards in more international locales like South Africa.
These businesses offer industry expertise and are a source of startup talent and potential customers. They help fuel the local startup community.
Up and coming startup
Up and coming startup
Up and coming startup
Up and coming startup
Mbwana Alliy founded the Nairobi based Savannah Fund in 2012. Since then, his leadership of the Fund has allowed several African startups to access capital, mentorship and acceleration services. Alliy is also an entrepreneur, having established Yellow Masai and TanTravel.
Johnni Kjelsgaard is one of the world’s most enthusiastic proponents of Africa’s entrepreneurial potential. He serves as Founder and CEO at GrowthAfrica, a Nairobi based organization that provides investment and consulting services in addition to operating the GrowthHub, an incubator and accelerator.
Patricia Jumi leads The Growth Hub, a major incubator and entrepreneurial resource that serves as a catalyst for Nairobi’s startups. The Hub is a part of the GrowthAfrica Group, which also provides consulting services and capital. Jumi’s prior work in both areas makes her a strong mentor for the city’s founders.
John Kieti is a major figure in the city’s startup community. As Team Lead and Founder of m:lab, he is one of Nairobi’s most influential advocates for entrepreneurial growth. m:lab provides education and incubation services for entrepreneurs in the hopes of further developing the city’s potential as a startup hub.
Erik Hersman is a serial entrepreneur who established iHub, one of Nairobi’s most important startup resources. The provision of co-working space, networking opportunities and other initiatives have greatly boosted the ecosystem’s coherence. Hersman also co-founded Ushahidi, an open source software firm.
Sam Gichuru is a lynchpin in Nairobi’s startup community due to his leadership of nailab, a major incubator and accelerator. With support from the Kenyan government, nailab has graduated several promising tech startups, becoming a pillar of the Nairobi’s startup community in the process.
Nikolai Barnwell currently serves as Program Manager of accelerator 88MPH’s operations in Nairobi. 88MPH was founded in Nairobi in 2011 and has since expanded to Cape Town and Lagos. Barnwell’s leadership means that few others have a more comprehensive view of the city’s potential as a startup hub.
Nick Hughes founded M-KOPA, a firm that sells solar power services with a mobile payments system. Since its creation in 2012, M-KOPA has become one of Nairobi’s biggest startup success stories. Hughes is a strong supporter of the country’s startups and a frequent speaker on entrepreneurship.
Duncan Kabui is the CEO of Chase Bank Kenya, one of the largest sources of capital for the country’s entrepreneurs. As a veteran of the banking industry and an angel investor in the startup community, Kabui is well-connected to Kenya’s investors.
Joseph Mucheru helps oversee Google’s operations in Africa as the Sub-Saharan Africa ambassador and East Africa Lead. He has extensive experience working in Kenya’s tech industry, having founded Wananchi Online in 1999. His continued role as a prolific speaker and mentor and investor has been a tremendous asset for Nairobi’s entrepreneurs.
Offering extensive services for small, medium or large businesses, GrowthAfrica has become a powerful catalyst in the region. They continue to partner with other firms, like Uhasibu and Village Capital, to cultivate Nairobi's startup scene.2000
This mobile-payment system revolutionized Kenya and much of Africa with its launch. Used by many startups and businesses, it struck peoples’ imagination and set into motion a new cycle of innovative thinking.2007
A two decade-long program targeting the year 2030, this national vision was implemented to create a new era of industrialization and economic development in Kenya. As a result, the country is seeing a paradigm shift, from searching for jobs to creating jobs.July 2008
The first of its kind in the region, iHub serves as an informal melting pot for innovators. A wide array of innovations has come out of iHub, ranging from M-Farm (agribusiness software solution) to Ma3racer (popular videogame). The people behind iHub continue to cultivate innovations through initiatives such as m:lab and iHub Research.June 2010
Sponsored by Google and Microsoft, 88mph is one of the most successful incubators in Africa with operations in Nairobi, Cape Town, and Lagos.August 2011
Founded by experienced Valley and Kenyan entrepreneurs and community leaders, Savannah fund is the fruit of years of experimentation and planning. It is proving to be a valuable force propelling the region’s startup community. Savannah Fund’s relative success is a testimony to the startup culture of Kenya.June 2012
In the span of 4 months, these three tech and development firms come to Nairobi. Despite already had a presence in Kenya, IBM it created the research lab, in association with the government, as a part of its strategy to grow its presence in Kenya.Summer to Fall 2012
Dubbed Africa's Silicon Savannah, this ambitious project will take 20 years to complete and will revolutionize Kenya. It will be the IT business hub of the region and is already slated to create over 20,000 IT jobs by 2015.January 2013
Building on M-PESA's success, this annual conference aims to tackle challenges surrounded digital currency and mobile payments. The conference garners international attention, bringing in entrepreneurs from around the world.November 2013
After having laid 600-kilometers of fiber cable in Nairobi, Safaricom announced Digital City with the intention of offering small and medium enterprises high-speed internet for affordable prices. Since 2013, Safricom has expanded its network to other cities with hundreds of kilometers of fiber cable.November 2013