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Kenyan social good startups feted at annual awards

Sankalp Award 2017 Winners together with the Intellecap team and the event's host Jeff Koinange in Nairobi. PHOTO | COURTESY
Sankalp Award 2017 Winners together with the Intellecap team and the event's host Jeff Koinange in Nairobi. PHOTO | COURTESY 

Two Kenyan startups were crowned as among the continent's top winners for an award that recognises entrepreneurs making a social impact through their work.

Kenya’s Popote Payments and Sokowatch placed second and third respectively, with Rwanda’s Kasha Inc. taking the top spot after being granted the Sankalp Africa Award at a summit held in Nairobi last weekend.

The three startups emerged tops from a pool of nearly 300 companies who vied for the prize.

Kasha, which was established last year, discreetly sells and delivers women’s health products such as sanitary pads and contraceptives through a mobile platform where clients can make orders and payments digitally.

The startup only requires customers to have a basic mobile phone and is built to operate in both urban and rural areas.

It has 750 customers in Rwanda and runs on a subscription model where women can sign up to receive products on a monthly basis.

“We also don’t advertise to men and they make 20 per cent of our customer base. They either purchase products for women or condoms for themselves,” says Joanna Bichsel, Kasha’s CEO and co-founder.

Access to funding

The Sankalp award, an initiative by Intellecap Advisory, has no cash value but serves to recognise entrepreneurs and provide them with a platform that gives them access to potential investors and financiers.

“The main work we do is to get them investments, get them partners to walk with them on their entrepreneurial journey,” said Martin Kiilu, Africa Enterprise Coach with Intellecap.

Popote Payments, a platform that enables its subscribers to manage payments digitally, is looking to raise $2.5 million in its first round of funding.

$1 million has already been committed - leaving founder Samuel Wanjohi looking for another $1.5 million.

The organizers say past winners have gone on to raise over $500,000 in investments after the opportunity to pitch their startup to venture capitalists who are drawn to purpose-driven African enterprises.

After pitching to the Sankalp Summit attendees, Mr Wanjohi is hopeful that he will raise that amount.

“I have a few meetings set up from people who have approached me on the investor side, and others who wanted me to on-board their companies with the platform,” he says.

Sokowatch, the third place winner, is a Kenyan distribution and e-commerce platform for consumer goods for companies with a straightforward distribution channel to meet the demands of the informal market.

Shops order from Sokowatch, whose annual revenue it says stands at Sh 67 million, via SMS and receive free delivery of their goods within a day.

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