The Struggle and Promise of Innovators and Start-Ups in Kenya

The Struggle and Promise of Innovators and Start-Ups in Kenya

pdf (1MB)


The Struggle and Promise of Innovators and Start-Ups in Kenya

March 1, 2023

This publication distills insights on the Kenyan innovation ecosystem from the perspective of innovators and start- ups, deriving from their experiences as key players in this critical space. It sheds light on their struggles, hits and misses, triumphs, heartbreaks and, of course, their unlimited potential. We document their journey through the narrow and winding path of innovation - from ideation, setting up, building the required physical and governance foundations through to commercialization of their products.

Reading through their testimonies, it is clear that the journey of innovation is not for the faint-hearted. These case studies bring out not only the ingenuity and richness of ideas in the Kenyan innovation tapestry but also highlights their indefatigable spirit and will to succeed despite the odds. It is simply inspiring.

The range of innovations highlighted in this document cut across different sectors and regions: from a marine engineer with several innovations including a UV disinfectant and an oxygen concentrator to a new machine that has reduced the cost of tea-picking by 75% per cent. There are also exciting digital applications in health, education and environment, two of which have raised over KSh 400 million in seed funding. Also, an innovator in Kisii is using solar drying to reduce post-harvest losses, and in the process, he has established a thriving enterprise based on the banana value chain.

And whereas the innovators and start-ups that form the basis of this publication were randomly selected, their views - more or less - reflect the status of the Kenyan innovation ecosystem. Though they may not be exhaustive - they are not intended to be - they provide a window through which we can get a glimpse of the Kenyan innovation ecosystem.