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Three Kenyan startups win Sh1.1m seed grant at South Rift innovation week

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Billy Osborn, Projects Manager at Nakuru presenting Certificate to Seif Waziri, CEO of Siha Organic Groceries Stores. PHOTO | POOL

Three Startups have won the Sh1.1 million ($9000) seed grant to kick-start their ideas into commercial projects during the  South Rift Innovation Week Hackathon Challenge.

The startups that include Zajeni LTD, Vehicle Occupancy Detection (VOD) and A shambaDAO ( decentralized autonomous organization) will walk away with Sh366, 000 ($3000) each as well as receive incubation and mentorship support for three months at Nakuru Box Incubation Hub to make their ideas come to life.

 The South Rift Innovation Week was organised by The Association of Country-Wide Innovation Hubs in collaboration with Nakuru Box, CoELIB, Innovate UK, UNDP and other partners.

Nakuru Box Managing Director George Wayne Murungi says over  200 submissions were received for the Hackathon challenge with one entry from Zambia.

“About 23 applicants were chosen from the 200 submissions for the Hackathon and had the opportunity to pitch their innovations to a panel of judges derived from the different sectors. The innovation week had the theme: INNOVATING TOWARDS A SMART NAKURU CITY focusing on four major sectors; Transport, Agriculture, Tourism and Manufacturing,” he explained.

Zejani LTD is a product of Judy Kananu- provide every household with grapes via green technology mainly hydroponic farming at a minimal cost with an aim of cubing food insecurity and climate change effects, while VOD (Vehicle Occupancy Detection) a product of Kelvin Mwago - offer an array of vehicle and fleet management reports to aid in the tracking and monitoring of the vehicles, occupancy of the passengers by using GSM and satellite tracking technology.

A shambaDAO ( decentralized autonomous organization) a product of Fabian Owuor allows for a more efficient way to run and manage farms :large:medium:small. Investments from urban dwellers to grow and automate rural farms.

“At the incubation hub we will train them on Business Vision and Opportunity, Customers and competitors, marketing, Business Process, Finances, Legal Aspects in Business, Funding your business, and business evaluation.

The move is part of the countrywide innovation weeks initiative organised by the Association of Countrywide Innovation Hubs aimed at boosting the use of technology to create impactful businesses.

ACIH plans to incubate 150 Kenyan startups in ten regions across the country. The program will focus on supporting the innovators to turn their ideas to productive businesses through a series of training, mentorship, pitching events and demo days.

Fifteen startups will be picked from ten countrywide innovation weeks that are running concurrently in a bid to catalyze conversation around innovation, entrepreneurship and technology at the grassroots level.

The innovation weeks are taking place in North Eastern, Eastern, Coastal, Mt. Kenya, North Rift, South Rift, Western, LakeBasin and Northern Region for the mainstream members and Nairobi for the Associate members.

Some of the major partners for the project include the United Nations Development Program, Innovate UK, Safaricom Kenya, Association of Startup and SMEs Enablers of Kenya (ASSSEK), GIZ, UK Kenya Tech Hub, Huawei, Foregn Commonwealth Development Office, Research and Innovation Systems for Africa (RISA) Fund,Afrilabs, World Food Program and the Government of Kenya through various ministries among them the ministry of ICT and Konza Technopolis, the chamber of Commerce and Kenya National Innovation Agency, KeNIA among others.