The Association of Countrywide Innovation Hubs (ACIH) has announced plans to incubate 150 Kenyan startups in a new accelerator programme 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 grassroot level. The innovation weeks will take 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.
“The youth are doing tremendous things at the grassroots level and in our learning institutions. Sometimes they are not aware that they are being innovative, and even when they know, they are so limited in exposure that they are hardly aware of the opportunities that they could tap into to take their efforts to the next level.” says Magdaline Chepkemoi, the chairperson of ACIH as she stressed that the regional innovation week will be a good opportunity for not just the innovators but also the government and partners to realize the existing potential and map strategic next steps for the Kenyan innovators.
Some of the activities that will take place include Innovation Hackathons, which are innovation competitions, virtual and physical capacity building sessions, Policy roundtables and sensitization forums targeting over 2000 participants.
The regional Innovation weeks will also stir intense creativity and motivate innovators to embark on nurturing their ideas to workable solutions. This will further attract investors and partners to the peri-urban regions, and open up networks for the marginalized innovators and sensitize them on existing channels of support resulting in social and economic growth outside of Nairobi.
“These regional innovation events will highlight areas of interventions and bring to surface possible solutions to the existing economic challenges in the respective regions scalable in other regions,” Chepkemoi added.
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.
“To capitalize, it’s important to have a systematic process in place that seeks discovery, nurtures ingenuity, evaluates potential and tests ideas. This process supports the kind of critical thinking needed to find answers to questions that others are unwilling to explore. This is the essence of innovation. We are committed to helping Kenyan startups go to the next level.” said Tony Omwansa, Chief Executive Officer keNIA.
On her part, Sheila Birgen, the Country Lead of the Innovate UKAid’s Innovative UK Knowledge Transfer Network Global Alliance Africa Programme supports business-led innovation in all sectors, technologies and UK regions, cites the timeliness of the ACIH regional Innovation weeks.
“The potential of the Kenyan Economy is hidden in the many young talents across the country and the regional Innovation Weeks are committed to unearth this potential.
Andrew Musila Technology and Innovation Lead, Safaricom :“Technology has enabled an unprecedented growth in labor income, but has also been a source of disruption. Technology has boosted productivity, which, in turn, has driven strong per-capita GDP growth and has been associated with expanding employment.
The Association of Countrywide Innovation Hubs, ACIH, a network of all Innovation Hubs in Kenya, is a proud player in the innovation ecosystem across the country whose main objective is to foster innovation and entrepreneurship across the country.