UK-Kenya Tech Hub partners with Whitebox Entrepreneurs

Part of DCMS’ International Tech Hub Network.

Overview

Challenge

90% of startups fail due to lack of business support, access to capital and market linkages

Solution

  • UK-Kenya Tech Hub partnership with the Ministry of ICT Whitebox platform

  • Targeted support for early and growth stage entrepreneurs

  • Ecosystem strengthening research and events

Impact

  • 150 early-stage, and 20 growth stage, entrepreneurs trained

  • Proportion of revenue-generating businesses increased by 35%

  • 59% of participating startups grew their customer base

  • 45% of participating startups in ongoing conversations with investors they met through the programme

Background

Entrepreneurship offers the potential to tackle development challenges through the creation of local solutions, whilst stimulating employment opportunities. Unfortunately, many innovations fail to scale or deliver their intended impact due to a lack of support – this is particularly pertinent for local innovators who require better access to networks and markets.

To address this issue, Kenya’s Ministry of ICT launched the Whitebox, to provide business support, access to markets, investors and government for local entrepreneurs. The programme aims to catalyse the growth of local ventures to global, world-class status.

Programme

The UK-Kenya Tech Hub partnered with a local consortium – including Strathmore Business School, Kijiji and Circle Innovation – to support entrepreneurs through the Whitebox.

During a 3 month programme, participants had access to virtual training delivered by local experts from both government and the private sector, covering key topics including business planning, scaling up and fundraising. Curated ‘Mastermind Groups’ provided peer mentoring, with small groups of founders meeting fortnightly to discuss challenges, receive feedback, and share ideas. All entrepreneurs were matched with local mentors, with the growth stage participants also benefiting from virtual one-on-one meetings with relevant stakeholders, including investors.


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Whitebox has been a great blessing for me. I started the business with little skills, but I have restructured and now it has a better structure, business model and Minimum Viable Product that would not be possible without Whitebox. I have also gained a lot of networks

Ashley Kibali, Founder & Chief Executive Officer of SeventyTwo Media Group


Tech Hub leadership

The UK-Kenya Tech Hub supported a total of 170 entrepreneurs through the Whitebox.

This multi-stakeholder partnership between Government, Hubs and innovators, demonstrates the importance of going beyond training to provide connections to mentors, investors and key partners. Early results have been promising: 59% of participants grew their customer base during the 3-month programme, early-stage participants saw a significant increase in the proportion of businesses generating revenue (from 27% to 62%).

Ministry of ICT Cabinet Secretary Joseph Mucheru, and Deputy High Commissioner to the UK Jospehine Gauld, launched the programme and attended the graduation.

Looking to the future

The Whitebox provides comprehensive support for entrepreneurs in Kenya, offering content, training and networking – in order to ensure the sustainability of the programme and to widen access, the Whitebox now needs to be transformed into an optimal virtual learning platform, with its content adopted by a wider range of programmes.

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To this end, the UK-Kenya Tech Hub is working with the National Youth Council to maximise Whitebox resources in meeting their mission of empowering youth entrepreneurs across the country.

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