Three Kenyan companies are poised to expand locally and globally and are interested in exploring how best to take that next significant step.
AT Labs, Lori Systems and SunCulture have been selected as hosts to the Global Entrepreneurship Laboratory (G-Lab) projects in collaboration with the MIT Sloan School of Management, founder of the international entrepreneurial program. The companies were chosen based on their business models, growth potential, and successes to date.
Teams of MBA students from MIT Sloan—one of the world’s to-ranked business schools—will be working on-site in Kenya throughout January to provide them with high-impact insight and analysis.
This year marks G-Lab’s 20th anniversary. Since 2000, nearly 2,500 MIT Sloan G-Lab students have worked with host companies on 643 projects at 482 startups in emerging and frontier markets in 54 countries. To date, approximately 15 G-Lab projects have been hosted in startups and companies across Kenya.
When determining project scope, host companies draw from a broad spectrum of business challenges such as growth, new market entry, pricing, marketing, benchmarking, fundraising, and financial strategy. G-Lab strongly emphasizes concrete “leave-behinds” as a primary component of the teams’ project deliverables. In the process, the MBA students gain real-world experience in creating, developing and running young enterprises with diverse economic infrastructures as well as thinking about the role of politics, culture, and other non-economic variables.
A wholly owned subsidiary of Africa’s Talking (TT), AT Labs is a startup studio that seeks to co-create companies with founders by giving them access to resources, including AT’s technology platform, engineering capacity, physical space, business services and access to capital. The MIT Sloan G-Lab team is working to create actionable insights to help refine for AT Labs the strategic approach to creating a sustainable operational formula for building successful startups in Africa.
An e-logistics marketplace for trucking, Lori Systems simplifies freight hauling across Africa. Their platform is revolutionizing the cargo-transport value chain, focusing on full truckloads. In the past year, Lori has seen significant growth in its operation footprint, business performance and team. Having raised capital and now focusing on scaling, Lori sees an opportunity to “check in” on its business and determine some clear internal and external priorities for 2020. The G-Lab team will recommend key areas to underpin and sustain their growth.
SunCulture’s water pumps and irrigation systems enable farmers to access a steady supply of water for agricultural and household use, engage in precision irrigation, store energy to power lights and appliances, and receive personalized farming recommendations. As SunCulture embarks on their “scale-up” phase, the company is eager to refine and upgrade its pricing strategy. The MIT Sloan G-Lab team will assist in the development of an enhanced pricing model to support SunCulture’s growth and profitability targets.
“Across Kenya, smart people are running good companies and looking to create more good jobs,” says MIT Sloan Professor Simon Johnson, the former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund who co-founded the program in 2000. “Over the past twenty years, it has been a privilege – and an education – for our students to find ways to be helpful. Everyone returns to the United States impressed with the energy and intensity of the CEOs in these companies.”
G-Lab—based on the MIT Sloan Entrepreneurship Lab (E-Lab) model launched in 1992—is one of 15 pioneering Action Learning labs available to students at MIT Sloan. While project activities vary, they are united by common themes, including experiential, reflective, and peer learning; faculty mentoring; real-world problem solving; knowledge transfer; and, perhaps unique to MIT Sloan, a student team engagement intended to have a measurable business, which often includes a social impact. These real-time management challenges bring theory to life.
The MIT Sloan School of Management, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, is one of the world’s leading academic sources of innovation in management theory and practice. With students from more than 60 countries, it develops effective, innovative, and principled leaders who advance the global economy.
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