The 3rd edition of Nairobi Innovation Week (NIW) was held at the University of Nairobi Towers from 6th – 10th March 2017. The Nairobi Innovation Week is an initiative by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives which brings together partners from government, private sector and research centers with an aim of providing a platform for show-casing innovative businesses within Kenya. The event was also geared towards creating concrete partnerships and sustainable solutions to support startups in the ecosystem.
In the lead up to the week-long event, we participated in a 3-week boot-camp hosted by Strathmore University and iBiz Africa. Sharleen Kikunze, who heads up the startup interactions for Viktoria Ventures, was invited to mentor the participating entrepreneurs on valuation and financial modelling. The startups were eager to learn what deal terms to adhere to when closing an investment. “It is important for entrepreneurs to avoid over-valuing and under-valuing their companies by undertaking extensive research on the multiples to use for the valuation of their companies,” she said. The boot-camp participants also underwent other coaching sessions to get them investor ready. A pitch judging event was held to shortlist the 25 startups to 10 that would have an opportunity to do an on-stage pitch at the NIW Startup Day.
Florence Kimaita, the SME Advisor at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives gave the audience a brief of the Startups Program and what was expected during the Startup Day. The 10 startups presented to a panel of seed stage or growth phase investors. These investors were from different organizations including ViKtoria Ventures, HEVA Fund, Umati Capital and GSM Association. The entrepreneurs displayed their products on stage and addressed the investors with confidence on the value and potential of their products and services. The pitches were short and snappy and investors were given a chance to ask the entrepreneurs questions regarding their products.
One of the startups that impressed the crowd was Greennovations who convert 20-tons of plastics to fuel daily, therefore reducing the greenhouse gas emissions by 10,000 metric tons of carbon equivalent. According to UNEP, 100 million plastic bags are handed out by Kenyan supermarkets per year. The entrepreneur formed his case and proved the profitability and social impact of the business. This is especially interesting and timely given the shift to environment friendly options countrywide. Just last week, the government banned the use of plastic bags. This ban, which takes effect in 6 months, includes importation and manufacturing of the bags. Greennovations is passionate about turning green ideas into green value.
Amid the pitch sessions, founders who had pitched their businesses at the previous edition of NIW gave their story on their journey thus far and how their businesses have grown since. Some of these businesses, such as Akinyi Adongo and Suave, were also part of a cohort funded by HEVA Fund in 2016 whereby ViKtoria Ventures took part in the selection and due diligence processes. This year, ViKtoria Ventures secured meetings with several startups including FlexPay, Inclusion Media, Briglobe Investment Group and Blink Technologies.
The Nairobi Innovation Week seeks to strengthen the innovation ecosystem by providing an inclusive platform through which support institutions can systematically address the capacity gaps and funding challenges of startups in Kenya. It is through such an event that entrepreneurs connect with us so they can plug into our network of local business angels. If you are a business looking to build such connections, please fill out your gust profile on our page here or contact us firstname.lastname@example.org