Kenya’s Nailab, Nairobi Incubation Lab, a business incubator cum accelerator has launched an initiative that will see it mentor startups across the country, physically.
Nailab has announced that it will physically reach out to tech entrepreneurs out of Nairobi, where it is based.
“The new vision of Nailab is to not only grow entrepreneurship in the Kenyan Nairobi tech scene but are now looking to stretch its footprint to encompass the growing counties,” said Josephine Mwangi, Nailab’s head of communications. ” We are also looking to help tech entrepreneurs develop products that will have recognized global impact on different nations.”
“The incubator seeks to expand its reach by targeting more entrepreneurs from other urban centers within different counties to enable the country have equal opportunity growth in the IT sector. We have also reduced our incubation time from the previous 12 months to 6 months. This will give a better chance to more entrepreneurs to enroll and join into the program,” Mwangi said.
Founded in 2011 by Sam Gichuru, Anna Chojnacka and Bart Lacroix, Nailab has seen more than 30 start ups successfully go through its program. It graduated 4 of its November 2012-2013 entrepreneurs after successfully completing the program and also won a government contract in 2013 worth $1.6million to help map out the possibility of setting up incubation centers through out the country.
Though Nailab won’t be launching physical incubators in these counties, it will be working with different tech communities and hubs to establish contact and through use of county hackathons to see how well it can help drive entreprenuership in the counties. It expects the county-based entrepreneurs to utilize the mentorship programmes and hackathons to come up with solutions for their local problems affecting sectors such as farming, transport, security, health, education among others.
The initiative is not a one-weekend affair, Nailab keeps in contact with incubatees who have gone through the program to follow up on their progress and work with them further. The incubator in October partnered with Idesafrica.com, an aggregate platform for entrepreneurs across Africa, to host a pilot virtual incubation program for its over 750 entrepreneurs. It’s also set to launch campus incubators with universities in Kenya such as Inoorero University and JKUAT which has had close collaborations with it.
In October Nailab held its first 2 day hackathon outreach program out of Nairobi in collaboration with JKUAT Mombasa which saw over 150 entrepreneurs and students formulate ideas and build prototypes. A total of 15 ideas were developed and the 3 winning ideas were taken into the virtual incubation program.