infoDev’s latest annual report shares two years of progress toward this critical mission. It shares the story of Judith Owigar, the founder of AkiraChix, an innovation hub in Nairobi, Kenya, that seeks to increase the number of skilled women in technology. In July 2015, Judith joined U.S. President Barack Obama and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on stage at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit to tell the world about her entrepreneurial journey. It also shares the story of Charity Wanjiku of Strauss Energy, a company that makes solar power more accessible and affordable for consumers at the base of the pyramid in Africa. Charity successfully pitched her business at the 1776 Challenge Cup, a tournament for world-changing startups held in Washington, D.C.
Between 2014 and 2015, infoDev, a multi-donor global program, supported entrepreneurs in more than 70 countries and designed innovative pilot programs that will inform World Bank Group initiatives on a greater scale. infoDev also published more than 30 knowledge products, including educational toolkits for business incubator managers and data-rich studies of entrepreneurial ecosystems.
infoDev-backed Climate Innovation Centers are supporting entrepreneurs in seven countries around the world. These locally-owned centers are providing more than 270 clean technology enterprises with knowledge, capital, and access to markets, and the centers were recognized by the International Energy Agency as models for clean energy innovation in emerging markets. In particular, the Kenya Climate Innovation Center was named “Most Promising Business Incubator in Africa” in the 2014 University Business Incubators Index.
In 2014, infoDev concluded the three-year Creating Sustainable Businesses in the Knowledge Economy (CSBKE) Program, a program funded by Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs that sought to accelerate the growth of small and medium enterprises in the agribusiness and ICT sectors. It oversaw the launch of four Mobile Application Laboratories (mLabs) and eight Mobile Social Networking Hubs (mHubs) in 10 countries. These thriving communities for mobile software entrepreneurs offer training programs, testing facilities, and competitions such as hackathons. The program aided over 500 entrepreneurs with in-depth incubation services, and 150 entrepreneurs were able to secure $51.5 million in external investments. The program also engaged with more than 90 industry and private sector partners, including Nokia, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung.
In the Caribbean, the Accelerate Caribbean program is helping 10 business enablers improve their services for entrepreneurs. In recognition of the constraints faced by women in the region, infoDev launched an acceleration program for Caribbean women entrepreneurs. It also helped to establish three angel investor groups in the region, opening the possibilities for high-potential entrepreneurs to receive early-stage financing.