East African virtu...

East African virtual incubation pilot to launch in Nairobi, Kenya

On January 25, tech entrepreneurs in rural east Africa will have access to next-tier business incubation through a new pilot program by infoDev and a consortium of regional partners. The pilot will bring virtual incubation services to rural communities in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.

For more information on the launch event or to attend, visit www.virtualincubation.eventbrite.com.

Typically, new ventures receive support at the site of an incubator—the vast majority of which are in urban centers. This pilot would extend the same services to regional innovators, regardless of where they live.

The regional partners will work together to spot and recruit potential startups; incubate them through virtual startup support, networking, mentoring, and market access services; connect them with funding; and track post-incubation activities.

The consortium is led by AfriLabs, a pan-African network of technology hubs, and includes m:lab East Africa, a Kenyan mobile incubation center; Dar Teknohama Business Incubator, a Tanzanian technology incubator; Hive Colab, a Ugandan collaboration, innovation, and incubation space; NaiLab, a Kenyan start-up accelerator, and the Technology and Business Incubation Facility, a Rwandan technology incubator.

The program aims, among other things, to:

  1. Bring the benefits of business incubation beyond major cities to rural populations.
  2. Explore tools and business models that lead to the future sustainability of virtual incubation initiatives.
  3. Measure the impact and cost-effectiveness of virtual incubation.
  4. Spread virtual incubation best practices.
  5. Build upon the technology ecosystem infoDev has created in East Africa, including Dar Teknohama Business Incubator (DTBi) in Tanzania and m:Lab East Africa in Kenya.

“We are honored to contribute to this ground-breaking effort to bring virtual incubation services to talented tech entrepreneurs in rural East Africa,” said Tayo Akinyemi, Director of AfriLabs. “AfriLabs is committed to supporting technology entrepreneurship across the continent and finding creative, context-appropriate ways to harness talent wherever it exists.”

This project is funded by a UKAid grant of only US$ 180K, which will cover implementation for two years. During that time, the program will actively create jobs, fill needs for services, and reach hundreds of entrepreneurs. A similar infoDev program implemented in Vietnam as reached over 500 entrepreneurs in less than a year.

The pilot builds on the lessons from a study published by infoDev in November 2011.

For more information on the program, contact Anushka Thewarapperuma (athewarapperuma@worldbank.org).

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