Set to facilitate business opportunities and partnerships between North European and East African companies, at least ten entrepreneurs graduating from GrowthAfrica’s startup accelerator managed to present their business and showcased innovative products at the Green Pioneer Venture Forum yesterday.
Participating companies were selected to join the Green Pioneer Business Accelerator Programme from 150 applicants from Kenya, with 50 per cent of the applicants coming from outside Nairobi and 20 per cent led by a female CEO.
“As you can imagine, today is a very exciting day for us,” said Johnni Kjelsgaard, CEO of GrowthAfrica, in the Venture Forum welcome speech yesterday, “It’s been an almost five month journey. We’ve had a lot of fun, and a lot of boxing matches – figuratively speaking! – trying to figure out how to improve these startups’ businesses. We are excited to accelerate the growth of early stage businesses being led by ambitious African entrepreneur
Since 2002, the Green Pioneer Accelerator has focused on early stage enterprises contributing innovative solutions to environmental issues such as climate change, energy insecurity, loss of biodiversity and degradation of ecosystems. This year, the inclusive businesses showcasing their innovations to local and international investors for prospective funding discussions ranged from a hardware company that is developing a roofing tile infused with solar cells to inclusive business models to distribute clean on and off grid power solutions such solar lighting, water heating and UPS systems that serve unmet needs in the market.
“The Green Pioneer Accelerator has been a great network for Sanivation to refine our business model, meet fellow entrepreneurs, and really understand what it is going to take to grow our business to reaching 1 million people in the next 5 years”, said Andrew Foote, CEO and co-founder of Sanivation.
With its headquarters in Nairobi, GrowthAfrica has emerged to cover three areas such as: the consulting services aimed at facilitating business opportunities and -partnerships between North European and East African companies, Acceleration programs for Kenyan start-ups and Development of strategies and facilitation of investments for Kenyan growth SMEs.
The recent event included partners: Hivos, VCAfrica and Impact Amplifier, a 25 member Dutch delegation – social impact and trade mission from the Hague and a key note speech.
“Do not wait for anyone to come and move your innovative product to the end user, set up multi distribution channels,” Peter Scott the CEO of Burn Manufacturing said during the inaugural Green Pioneer venture forum adding that “a startup only fails when founders quit, always be on the look out for niches in the market.”
Peter Scott is one of the world’s leading experts in cook stove commercialization and has trained producers in over 20 countries to set up for-profit stove businesses. In 2006, he received an Ashden Award for designing and promoting institutional cookstoves in Southern Africa. In 2010 he was chosen as one of the Top100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy Magazine.
Speaking on developing products for the Bottom of the Pyramid market, Scott advised participants not to merely listen to the experts but to what the market says. “Kenyans will pay for a good product priced competitively,” he said.
In all, the recipient of the investment will be announced soon, from the following top Kenyan businesses that pitched to win the $50,000 USD from programme partner – Hivos:
Strauss Energy (Kenya) – Tony Nyagah – The company focuses on building an integrated photovoltaic roofing tile for residential houses and commercial units. The excess power generated will be fed into the national grid so that home owners can earn income from the feed-in-tariff.
Afrisol Energy Limited (Kenya) – Amos Nguru – specializes in design, installation and maintenance of biogas digesters to produce clean and cheaper energy for institutions.
Boma Safi Limited (Kenya) – Joyce Gema – Sells affordable solar products, clean cook stoves and briquettes to rural households through a hub-spoke and promoter distribution model.
Classic foods Limited (Kenya) – Wachira Kariuki – Classic Foods processes dairy products, fruit juice, tomato sauce, honey, flour milling and manufactures animal feeds.
Cobitech Solar (Kenya) – Samson Gichia – Cobitech works with microfinance institutions and savings and credit cooperatives to provide the solar kits on loan to rural poor households for repayment within one year.
Consumer’s Choice Limited (Kenya) – Mohammed Kadhi – Consumer Choice replaces the use of fossil fuels with more efficient, more economical Bio-Ethanol Gel and environmentally friendly clean cook stoves.
Green Pencils Limited (Kenya) – Ivan Ochieng – Green Pencils sources old newspapers from registered groups like the disabled, women and youth groups to produce customized pencils and ball pens.
Kencoco Limited (Kenya) – DR. Said Twahir – Kencoco uses coconut shells, husks and other biomass material to produce charcoal briquettes and sells to households and institutions.
Plexus Energy Limited (Kenya) – Edward Kinyanjui – Plexus distributes off grid power solutions such solar lighting, solar water heating and UPS systems for network masts for telecommunication companies and data centres for internet service providers.
Sanivation (Kenya) – Andrew Foote – Sanivation installs portable toilets and charges a monthly fee to provide household sanitation and energy services to people living in congested areas.
Skynotch Energy Africa (Kenya) – Patrick Kimathi – Skynotch Energy runs a mini-hydro power generation plant, and works with small dealers to provide last mile distribution for solar lanterns and solar energy applications.
The recipient of the 50K USD investment will be announced soon at the GrowthAfrica alumni meetup.