iHub’s Nekesa Were Appointed Executive Director at AfriLabs


iHub Director Nekesa Were has been appointed AfriLabs Interim Executive Director after a career spanning over 10 years in the African tech ecosystem.

Nekesa is the immediate former Managing Director of iHub Nairobi and was a Board Member of AfriLabs. She replaces Anna Ekeledo who is on maternity leave till later this year.

“Having Nekesa on the AfriLabs Board has brought us so much value and now we are super excited to have her join our Executive team. Exciting times ahead!” said Anna Ekeledo.

Nekesa took over the management of iHub from then CEO Mary Gicharu who had replaced Kamal Bhattacharya. That period Invested Development’s Miguel Granier had acquired iHub Limited and Gearbox via investment firm BSP Fund LLC. Nekesa was one of the first green members of iHub but later joined the iHub as Director of Operations and in 2018 took over as the Managing Director of Africa’s renowned innovation hub.

Last year Nigeria’s Co-creation Hub (CcHUB), the tech innovation centre in Nigeria acquired Kenya’s iHub for an undisclosed fee. CcHUB is therefore expected to make new key hires in innovation consulting, people management, programme management and community support, as it looks to strengthen its pan-African network and mobilise resources, networks and relationships to accelerate the growth of technology innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa. 

The acquisition of East Africa’s most prolific and reputable technology centre was the next step for CcHUB’s mission to connect entrepreneurs, technologists and public bodies across the continent. The move comes just seven months after CcHUB expanded into Kigali, Rwanda, with the launch of its Design Lab – the first creative space in Africa to focus solely on product design and technology innovation. 

CcHUB’s co-founder Bosun Tijani continues as CEO across both locations.

According to Nekesa, writing on her blog, in her ten years at iHub, it has supported over 700 startups and graduated over 150 from its accelerator programs. These startups have raised over USD 50 million in investment and have contributed, conservatively over 50,000 jobs to East Africa’s economy. Their products have positively impacted millions of people.

“It is interesting that I leave the iHub as the world is changing dramatically week by week,” Nekesa wrote. “This new normal presents big challenges and big opportunities. But at the heart of it all will be community. In the short term, I am excited to give more time to an initiative close to my heart.”

Speaking on behalf of the board, Board Chair, Rebecca Enonchong said, “Nekesa has been a key member of the African tech ecosystem for many years. We’re incredibly blessed to be able to leverage her breadth and depth of experience as she leads the Afrilabs secretariat during this period.”

AfriLabs is a pan-African network of 202 technology innovation hubs across 46 African countries. The organisation was founded in 2011 to build a community around rapidly emerging tech hubs, with a mission to support the growth of these technology hubs and their communities to raise high potential entrepreneurs that will stimulate economic growth and social development in Africa.