The country is home to some of the most exciting and diverse startups ranging from payments, logistics, e-commerce, health to blockchain apps.
Just like California’s Silicon Valley, much of Kenya’s homegrown innovations are taking place inside small tech communities and social groups.
High levels of interest in this segment have pushed local entrepreneurs, university students and government agencies to form innovation hubs around the country, with some of the most well known being the i-Hub, m-Lab, FabLab and NaiLab facilities.
Since it was founded in 2010, iHub has launched as many as 170 startups. Another notable tech hub in Nairobi is Nailab which was founded by Sam Gichuru.
Most of the innovation spaces, incubation centres, accelerators, and maker labs are concentrated in Kenya’s capital but in recent years startups have started moving out of the city to other cities such as Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu and Eldoret.
The shift from Nairobi is a sign that the market in Nairobi is getting saturated.
“The Kenyan startup space may not register much growth in 2019 because the economy is still recovering and all the SMEs are struggling so we expect the Startups to also struggle in that aspect,” Kennedy Kachwanya, a technology blogger and the chairman of BAKE (Bloggers Association of Kenya) told Business Insider SSA.
The Kenyan startup space has been growing steadily since 2009 when the amount being made by local companies hovered at around Kshs300,000 ($ 35,294) but today it’s a billion-shilling ($11.8 million) industry.
One of the reasons for the success of startups in Kenya is high mobile penetration among Kenya’s 45 million people which currently stands up to 87% and one of the fastest mobile internet speeds in the world.
Considering that, here are 10 startups to watch out for in 2019.
Twiga Foods is Kenya’s mobile-based produce delivery firm which is revolutionising the food industry in the country.
Since 2014, Twiga has been bridging gaps in food and market security through an organised platform for an efﬁcient, fair, transparent and formal marketplace.
In 2018, the firm managed to secure funding of $ 2 million in seed capital and put in place their growth plan for the first 24 months. The raise was the largest seed round in East Africa to date.
You can never know when you will need help especially if you are in Kenya’s capital. Well, you don’t have any reason to worry you can now quickly alert emergency services at the flick of a wrist.
‘Usalama’ which is Swahili word for safety is a mobile app that sends a distress signal when a user shakes their phone three times alerting emergency services of their location, as well as their next of kin, and every "Usalama" user within 200 meters.
Life is easier when you know you can easily access money within minutes at the tap of a button.
Branch is a Facebook-linked service that allows users to borrow and repay small loans through Safaricom's mobile payments service M-Pesa.
The mobile-based Microfinance Institution (MFI) which operates in Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and California, recently raised a further Sh 500 million ($ 4.9 million) in capital through the issuance of a third commercial paper that was arranged by Barium Capital, a capital-raising advisory firm owned by Centum Investments.
The capital investment is expected to expand Branch’s business in Kenya.
If you are planning to host an event in 2019, then Gig should be your go-to guy.
GiG offers a solution by providing a platform that is able to manage the whole event process flow from before the event, during the event and after the event.
Through web and mobile platforms, event organisers can: Create and Add their events, manage RSVPs, Ticketing, Suppliers, Communication to attendees and get real-time reports of how their event is progressing with regards to attendance, traffic, inquiries and on-site registrations.
Get Gas is a Kenyan start-up on the rise to becoming the country's leading Gas-to –The –Home supplier.
The start-up is tackling the problem of acquisition of legally filled LPG cylinders and eliminate the bureaucracy that is associated with big petroleum firms.
Their long-term goal is to scale the oil and gas industry.
HelpMum is health technology that uses the power of mobile technology and low-cost innovation to tackle maternal and infant death in Africa.
HelpMum bridges the information gap and has developed a modern digital infrastructure for distributing health services to pregnant woman and nursing mothers.
It's innovative automated SMS and voice messaging platform
Hazina provides interest-free loans and business development training to small-scale rural and semi-urban entrepreneurs in coastal Kenya.
To date, it has disbursed more than $ 2 million in zero-interest loans and trained more than 6000 entrepreneurs.
Taimba is a Kenyan start-up which seeks to strengthen and streamline the agricultural value chain by giving all players an equal opportunity to have access to affordable quality food.
Taimba works by sourcing farm produce from farmer saccos at affordable prices that are farmer friendly. It then offers retailers with the fresh produce at lower than market prices.
It offers free deliveries and also provides 12 to 24-hour credit to vendors.
Taimba uses the technology to capture data on all aspects of the business that can be used over time.
Every stock, bond, currency, and commodity will be tokenized in 2019.
Raise (getraise.io), is a company working on moving securities and other digital assets onto the blockchain.
The startup enables anyone to tokenize real-world assets, starting with equity, and issue them as legally enforceable security tokens on the Stellar blockchain.
Eugene Mutai, a software developer and consultant who has previously worked at Tim Hortons, Andela and iHub is the CTO and co-founder of Raise.
They say ignorance of the law is no defence, therefore, it’s always imperative for one to get acquainted with legal matters.
Loya helps people find and connect with the right lawyer through their mobile App.
Founded in June 2017 in Nairobi, Loya provides transparent information about attorneys, with user-rated profiles for practising lawyers in Kenya.