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ICT start-ups win cash to get business ideas off the ground

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A vibrant market for ICT solutions in Kenya is anticipated. Photo/FREDRICK ONYANGO

A vibrant market for ICT solutions in Kenya is anticipated. Humanipo, a collaboration between networks of free agents, will invest Sh54 million in ICT start-up companies. Photo/FREDRICK ONYANGO 

By Immaculate Karambu

Posted  Monday, August 22  2011 at  21:04

Humanipo, a collaboration between networks of free agents, will invest Sh54 million in ICT start-up companies.

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The firm’s officials said three Kenyan ICT start-ups have been identified for funding of between Sh3 million and Sh2 million each following successful presentation of their business ideas at the just- concluded IPO48.

IPO48 refers to a contest that was held at the I-Hub in Nairobi where competitors had just 48 hours to turn their ideas into viable business ventures. This year’s winners are Tusquee Systems, Ghafla and 6ix Degrees.

Humanipo also gives budding entrepreneurs feedback on their start-ups and connect them to potential co-founders, mentors, investors.

This is the second time the competition is being held in Kenya. Mfarm scooped the top position in the inaugural event held last year at Strathmore University in Nairobi and won Sh1 million in investment funding.

Mfarm aims to provide farmers with a tech-based solution to marketing , including access to commodity prices and market data so as to curb exploitation by middlemen.

Business Daily talked to each of the three start-ups on their projects and how they plan to invest the prize money to improve business.

Tusquee Systems: The group comprises six University of Nairobi students studying mathematics, geology and computer science.

According to one of the company founders, Mr Boniface Githinji, the idea is to provide affordable means of communication among schools, students and other stakeholders through an SMS code.

The services include inquiry and access to examination results, school fees balances and fee statements.

The application is mobile based as it utilises the short message (SMS) function which will cost Sh10 for enquiries.

It is a cheaper alternative to methods that schools currently use to call impromptu meetings such as newspaper and radio advertisements.

Ten schools participated in the pilot stage, including Alliance Girl’s High School, Precious Blood Riruta, Naivasha Boy’s Boarding and Nairobi Primary School and the company officials are optimistic of attracting more institutions once the business is officially rolled out.

But there is a challenge. “As much as there has been increased mobile handset penetration in Kenya, it is difficult to market the idea to schools that do not have computers. We are looking at ways of getting them on board,” said Mr Githinji.

This is where they intend to channel part of the Sh3 million prize money. The rest will be used on marketing and product improvement.

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