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.

In This Market

These businesses offer industry expertise and are a source of startup talent and potential customers. They help fuel the local startup community.


  • Very affordable software engineers
  • Leading tech hub for sub-saharan Africa
  • Healthy early-stage startup community, with good incubator and accelerator support
  • Lots of opportunities and problems for entrepreneurs to tackle.
  • Large expat community involved in the startup scene, both a pro and a con
  • Tremendous business opportunities in mobile, agriculture tech, tourism, eCommerce, and physical goods

Risk Factors

  • Lacks seed stage and A round capital
  • Hard to convince non-African investors to take Nairobi seriously
  • Kenya has a large population of poor citizens, with a volatile economy
  • It’s still early. The startup ecosystem needs more success stories as well as a serious first wave of founders that reinvest in and support their community
  • Home to many major companies in a variety of industries

Market Indicators

Notable Success Stories


Key players

Market timeline

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