The government will Thursday launch a $1.6 million (Sh140 million) technology incubation centre aimed at supporting IT startups.
The government has partnered with Kenyan business incubator Nailab, which will use the funds to reach out to ICT startups across the country.
Currently, Nailab supports ventures based in Nairobi, but the firm intends to use the funds to widen its reach to include other major towns such as Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, and Eldoret.
Business incubation provides entrepreneurs with access to critical information, education, contacts, capital and other resources crucial to the growth of ventures that may otherwise be unaffordable, inaccessible, or unknown.
“With this tech business incubation programme we can upscale our ambition and support more ICT startups. It is our ambition to create the next generation of successful ICT companies of Kenya,” said Nailab founder Sam Gichuru.
“The idea was to create a business incubator in Nairobi whose main role was to stimulate innovation, provide space for ideas to be worked on with little financial strain, and provide appropriate guidance necessary to do so.”
Nailab focuses on early stage business ideas that are likely to have a large social and economic impact, are highly scalable, require minimum investments to prototype, and have a strong value proposition.
The project is an initiative of the Ministry of Information and Communications through the World Bank and is funded by the Kenya Transparency and Infrastructure Project which is spearheaded by Kenya ICT Board (KICTB).
Nailab has contracted the board to pilot the national business incubation programme for companies with high growth potential.
The programme’s main goal is to build and support infrastructure and outreach with successes being replicated in other parts of the country.
“The growth of Kenya’s economy is pegged on how many profitable businesses we are able to build and sustain. This project displays the government’s commitment towards supporting SME’s and growing Kenya as an ICT destination”, said Dr Bitange Ndemo, the Information ministry PS.
Nailab says supporting small and medium ICT enterprises can contribute largely to Kenya’s economic development by providing jobs, expanding the middle class, broadening the tax base, and ultimately decreasing poverty.
Several startups, such as Tusqee Systems, have graduated from Nailab.