The entrepreneurial ecosystem in Kenya is growing with a super fast pace. In 2019 alone, Kenyan startups broke all the records and raised USD 428.91 Mn. For many entrepreneurs, getting into an incubator is the first step for their startup idea. To help Kenyan entrepreneurs, we are compiling a list of startup incubators in Kenya.
Founded in 2013, C4D Lab doubles up as research and development center as well as incubator and is housed by the School of Computing and Informatics, Univesristy of Nairobi. It is also home to Nairobi Innovation Week, an event where innovators showcase their products.
Hosted by Strathmore University, iBizAfrica carries out the entrepreneurship and incubation theme of iLab Africa, a research and innovation center at the university. It has so far incubated over 300 startups including ValuRaha, Buymore and Tatu Creatives just to name a few. Additionally, iBiz offers a co-working space at the university´s student center.
With a specific focus in the healthcare center, Villgro is an early stage business incubator that also serves as an impact investor supporting startups with a global health impact in the East African region. The incubator has housed notable healthtech startups such as Ilara Health, Turaco, Flare, Maisha Meds and many more.
Hosted by the University of Nairobi and also known as the Fabrication Laboratory, FabLab is a small-scale workshop that offers digital fabrication. It is part of a network of´FabLabs´that were started at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Acquired by Nigeria´s innovation centre and seed fund CcHub in 2019, iHub was started in 2010 by Erik Hersmann. iHub is one of the most prominent incubators in Kenya, which supports African tech startups. Some startups that have been housed by iHub include Majik Water and M-Shule.
6. mLab East Africa
Officially launched at iHub, mLab is a consortium of four organizations that aim to identify, nurture and help build sustainable enterprises. The four include: eMobilis offering education and training, World Wide Web Foundation offering curriculum content, The University of Nairobi School of Computing and Informatics offering research and iHub for community interaction.
7. Cisco EDGE Incubation Centre
This is USD 680,000 incubation hub set up by the networking hardware company Cisco, with the aim of speeding up market access for SMEs in the ICT sector as well as imparting knowledge. The 2019-founded hub is also hosted by the University of Nairobi and is the second to be launched in Africa, after another one was launched in South Africa in 2018.
This is an early-stage impact incubator and accelerator. It has two keynote programmes; the Idea-to-Innovation and the Innovation-to-Impact programmes. Through these programmes, entrepreneurs have access to seed funding of up to USD 100,000 apart from mentorship and networking opportunities. It´s portfolio includes startups such as Farm Lease and Kiara Agro.
Founded in 2010, the Nairobi-based incubator aims to lower market entry barriers for tech entrepreneurs. It additionally offers acceleration and training programmes and claims to have worked with over 16,000 African entrepreneurs. NaiLab has had startups such as Kejahunt and Tusqee in its portfolio.
Located in Kisumu, LakeHub is an innovation hub that targets early stage startups in the circular and shared economy, though not necessarily tech startups. After its 6 months incubation programme dubbed LakeHub Incubation, three most promising startups receive USD 5K for further idea development.
The Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI) is a national research institute that offers both virtual and in-house incubation services to startups for 6 months.
12. The Hub East Africa
Also known as The Entrepreneur´s Hub, this incubator seeks to support startups and SME to start, grow and scale their enterprises. It offers a six month programme dubbed ´hubcubation´ where businesses between one to three years old are eligible for training, mentorship, strategy development among other services. Some companies that have gone through the incubator include Cloud9, Lapid Leaders Africa, RideSafe among others.
13. MEST Incubator
The Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) is a Pan-African tech incubator as well a seed fund. Started in Accra, Ghana in 20018, MEST trains, supports and invests in African software entrepreneurs. It additionally offers a one-year entrepreneurial training program. It operates from three centers, MEST Accra, MEST Lagos and MEST Nairobi and claims to have invested in nearly 60 early stage companies, some of them including TechShelta, Profish, MeQasa among others.
14. Chandaria Business Innovation and Incubation Center
The Chandaria-BIIC was launched by Kenyatta University, with aid from the Chandaria Foundation. Its main aim is to support the emergence of innovative companies, by offering a place that merges academic research and innovation. The agreement of its establishment is that it would support budding entrepreneurs, 70% of whom are Kenyatta University Students and 30% of whom are not in the institution. Startups that have gone through the center´s twelve month incubation programme include FlexPay and Ecodudu.
Kenya Kountry Business Incubators (KeKoBi) originally started out in 2004 as a live software development business incubator but later evolved to allow mixed use incubation. Working with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, it supports SMEs and foster entrepreneurship at the local level. It also claims to have incubated over 20 companies.
16. Mara Launchpad Incubation Center
The center was started by the Mara Foundation, which is a social enterprise that focuses on emerging African entrepreneurs. It is active in Uganda. Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria. The incubation center offers entrepreneurs mentorship, funding, a workspace and business training.
We’re all about information sharing. If you’re an incubator and have not been included in the list, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to have your incubator added!
Feature image courtesy: Africa Strictly Business