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Government Partners with the World Bank to Strengthen Innovation Hubs

Kenya and the World Bank have invited applications from incubators, accelerators and tech-bootcamp providers for possible funding and business mentorship.

The partnership through an initiative known as the Strengthening Kenya’s Innovation Ecosystem (SKIES), aims to benefit intermediaries that incubate and accelerate enterprises engaged in various value chains such as leather; livestock (dairy and pastoralism economy); garments and textiles. Others are; industrial production (building materials and pharmaceuticals); and crops (edible oils, rice, tea and coffee). Speaking during the event, State Department for Industry Principal Secretary Juma Mukhwana, said enterprise ecosystem intermediaries are key priority areas as they play a vital role that should be well understood if Kenya is to nurture a robust startup enterprise ecosystem.


“The intermediaries bridge the gap between startups and their transformation into thriving enterprises. As of now, Kenya boasts a burgeoning number of intermediaries estimated at 200, spread all over the country, which are actively contributing to the growth of our innovation ecosystem,” he said.

The Kenyan entrepreneurship ecosystem has witnessed the  emergence of numerous business incubators and accelerator initiatives mainly focused on Information, Communication & Technology (ICT) enterprises. While this growth has seen the flourishing of tech start-up support networks, it has also presented both advantages and challenges for these institutions.

David Cheboryot, one of the directors at SKIES and a representative of the E4Impact Foundation, unveiled the visionary initiative. He pointed out that SKIES will be working on three critical pillars of transformation. This will be done through building intermediary capacity, empowering tech education and fostering an environment of collaboration, where intermediaries join hands to enhance startup support and share best practices and ecosystem learnings.

Lack of a uniformed platform to oversee the startup ecosystem has also given rise to issues such as innovation duplication, absence of a national opportunity repository, lack of standardised best practices, information imbalances leading to ‘grantpreneurs’ and intermediaries lacking commitment to excellence.

SKIES, a sub-component of  the Sh5 billion Kenya Industry and Entrepreneurship Project (KIEP) funded by the World Bank Group and implemented by the Ministry of Investments, Trade and Industry (MITI), will be implemented in two tracks.

The first track will accommodate incubators, and accelerators, where successful applicants will receive financial grants based on individual improvement plans. The second batch will comprise technology boot camp providers and rapid tech skills students. Boot camp providers will be supported through grants for scaling, while students will receive subsidies to cover their tuition fees.

The project aims to benefit 20 beneficiaries for Track 1 and 16 beneficiaries for Track 2, along with 532 students who will receive scholarships for rapid tech skills training. “We are committed to ensuring regional balancing to represent the diverse face of Kenya among our beneficiaries,” said Mr. Cheboryot.

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