Three Kenyan startups have been selected for a fully funded trip by ICT Norway to showcase at the Oslo Innovation Week (OIW2019) in Norway, where they get a funding opportunity meant to transform their ideas into businesses.
The three; Arigiene Limited, Gjenge and Escon Leather Creations, impressed a panel of judges that included ICT Norway representatives Torgeir Waterhouse and Christopher Hoff during a track event for the Nairobi Innovation Week that ended on 14th June. They will be funded by ICT Norway, a public sector organization that links the Norwegian ICT and startup sectors in various parts of the world.
Nzambi Matee, founder of Gjenge, expressed her gratitude and optimism for the future of entrepreneurs in Kenya saying, “I am really happy that I have this opportunity to attend the Oslo Innovation Week. It will be a great platform to meet new people and potential investors, acquire new knowledge and fresh ideas that will build me as an individual and benefit my company as well.”
Whereas Arigiene Limited innovates unique products to solves toilet bowl water splash-back, Gjenge innovation recycles waste plastic into strong and artistic construction products and Escon Leather Creations manages waste of discarded low grade hides and skins, which would otherwise be pollutants to the environment, to make leather products. The trio beat 10 other finalists at the competition organized by Pangea Accelerator.
ICT Norway has collaborated with Kenya’s Ministry of ICT on a number of initiatives that gives businesses in the tech sphere an opportunity to grow. Already, the partnership has seen the establishment of the Association of Startup and SME Enablers Kenya (ASSEK) that was officially launched in May 2019.
Other initiatives will include teaching children to code, strengthening technology through training, exchange programs of startups with internships between Norway and Kenya and facilitation of a yearly Pan-African conference which will focus on innovation in the urbanization sector and provide a platform for an increased focus on smart city opportunities in Africa.
It is a way to facilitate mutual business and possible joint ventures between Norway and Kenya. Through this partnership between Kenya and Norway, over 1500 startups in Kenya will be supported as well as opportunities created for over 15,000 entrepreneurs between 2019 and 2020 as reports Waterhouse.
There has been a lot of financing opportunities for tech entrepreneurs in Kenya and the region in recent years. Just early this month Kenya and the World Bank launched an initiative aimed at providing a platform for Kenyan youth to use their talent in developing innovative solutions. The Kenya Industry and Entrepreneurship Project (KIEP) is a Sh5 billion project co-funded by the World Bank aimed at creating an industry platform to link startups, traditional industries and international networks in select private sector firms for the next 6 years.