m:lab East Africa to Host Slush Global Impact Accelerator 2016 Local Event


June 24, 2016

One of the leading startup and technology event, Slush Global Impact Accelerator 2016 has been launched. The m:lab is excited to be part of Slush for the second consecutive year. The m:lab will be hosting Slush 2016 local competition in August to select startups that will represent Kenya at Slush in November – December at Helsinki in Finland.

Slush Global Impact Accelerator is a program created in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland and multiple partners globally. The purpose is to create a leading global program to support startups that are looking to solve some of the most pressing global challenges and contributing to the discussion on impact investing.

Slush 2016 will bring impactful entrepreneurs from emerging markets to Helsinki to accelerate their business, attract additional financing and make an even greater impact on their societies and beyond. The program includes online pre-event coaching and Helsinki boot camp program from November 22–December 2, 2016 culminating in Slush.

Last year 15 hubs from Brazil, Africa to Vietnam took part in this program and this year it is expanding to 20. A Group of 40 entrepreneurs will join the program after all the final selection procedures are completed. Also, all the hubs will be joining the program in Finland.

Slush is Europe’s leading startup and technology event, which connects startups and tech talent with top-tier international investors, executives, and media. In 2015, Slush brought together 15,000 attendees from one hundred nations for the two day event held in Helsinki, Finland.

The local event will be held on 11th August in Nairobi, Kenya. Stay tuned for more information on how to apply for the local event.

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Afroes Graduates out of the incubation at m:lab East Africa


June 10, 2016

Afroes, short for ‘African heroes’,is an African Social enterprise that gamify learning. Afroes develops cutting-edge interactive digital media solutions rooted in Africa’s rich heritage and designed to mould Africa’s young citizens. By engaging with Afroes, users get a fresh and cool African experience as well as an awareness of new possibilities and opportunities on the continent.

Afroes aims to change mindsets of young Africans by developing leadership and problem solving skills through innovative and engaging digital games.Their value proposition is uniquely designed for the African mobile market to create compelling and relevant interactive content but also to ensure deep reach into the hands and pockets of the target user

Afroes began Its operations in South Africa in January 2010 with the goal to build compelling and relevant learning content for youth in Southern and East Africa. In 2012, they joined the Mlab Southern Africa. In the same year Afroes was given the opportunity to “Internationalize” beginning with Kenya – through the m:lab East Africa.

To date, Afroes has developed and distributed a series of mobile learning solutions. In Kenya, this has included award-winning HAKI – a mobile game series on Justice and Rights that has reached over 30,000 users. MORABA is an award winning mobile-game, which addresses the difficult question of Gender-based Violence (GbV). It has reached over 50,000 youth in the South African pilot program in partnership with VODACOM with empowering information.

As part of the Rockefeller Digital jobs initiative, Afroes developed JobHunt a game to educate highly skilled but disadvantaged youth on the availability of digital jobs.

Through their partnership with Games 4 Change and the Half the Sky movement, they were able to expand their mobiv8 network. As Afroes builds relevant content for the youth market, it sought creative approaches to overcome content distribution challenges and ensure adoption. Building on previous projects, Afroes has further developed the concept of community-based youth representatives for distribution and data-gathering. The Afroes Mobiv8 Network is a growing team of community-based sales reps who are contracted to ensure distribution of the mobile learning content in the greater community where they are based as well as to gather data and insights

Afroes also offers tailored content for a fee to companies and organizations eager to reach the youth market in an innovative and engaging way. This business-to-business model has been the main source of revenue to date. Another source of revenue has been in-game advertising. Apart from their revenue model above, Afroes is looking to raise external funds that will help the startup to scale.

“One of the main benefits of being part of the m:lab incubation program is the variety of resources available to us. Our business coach was specific to help us develop the long-term strategy for Afroes as well as developing multiple business models. Being an international company the challenges of developing a holistic business model was a challenge and what would work in Kenya wasn’t necessarily what would work in South Africa.” says Gathoni, Research and partnership associate Afroes

She continued to say that the m:lab community is a great resource and support system. We were able to develop the m:lab EdTech community – bringing together all the startups working in educational technology. This group was useful in helping us network and also test ideas. The tech startup scene in Kenya is very dynamic and as an organisation you have to be proactive and responsive to these changes.  Being part of the m:lab incubation program and community has helped us stay abreast of the issues at hand and also supported us in pivoting and re-adjusting our business model as necessary.

For more information about Afroes, visit their website you can also follow them on twitter @afroesgames

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Kopo Kopo partners with Diamond Trust Bank (Uganda) to launch new PayEasy service


May 18, 2016

Former incubatee Kopo Kopo, a global leader in mobile money-based merchant solutions, has launched PayEasy in partnership with Diamond Trust Bank (Uganda). With PayEasy, retail merchants in Uganda can now accept customer payments at the point of sale via Airtel Money and MTN Mobile Money using a single, unified account – a first in East Africa.

“We’re thrilled to launch such an exciting service in partnership with Diamond Trust Bank,” says Kopo Kopo CEO Ken Kinyua. “We share a common vision, and that is to make mobile money convenient, effortless and indispensable for customers and merchants alike.”

With PayEasy, merchants have access to a suite of web-based tools for monitoring payment activity, requesting electronic statements and settling funds to their bank account in real-time. PayEasy merchants also receive a free starter kit that includes branding and education materials to sensitize their customers and employees.

To pay a merchant via PayEasy, customers simply let the cashier know if they will be paying via Airtel Money or MTN Mobile Money, and then the cashier initiates the payment by entering the purchase amount and customer phone number on a their phone. The customer is then given an opportunity to review the details before confirming the payment.

“Kopo Kopo has been serving thousands of merchants throughout Sub-Saharan Africa since 2010,” says Kinyua. “We launched the first merchant aggregator and cash advance businesses in the mobile money industry and are thrilled to now launch the first interoperable merchant wallet in East Africa. It’s an exciting time to be in the industry and we proud to be at the leading edge.”

To sign up for a PayEasy account or learn more, simply call or visit any Diamond Trust Bank branch in Uganda.

With the mobile money spreading across East Africa and the whole world, Kopo Kopo is the company to watch out for.


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Sign up for Project Management and Market Research Training

Training, Workshops

May 16, 2016

Project management and market research is very crucial for startups. Project Management has emerged as a field of practice that is being used increasingly by many entrepreneurs to achieve their business goals. Managing a project especially for a startup can appear to be very exhausting especially if an entrepreneur does not have the time or skills to stay organized at all time. Hence the reason why entrepreneurs should embrace project management and leverage on the available project management software and tools to be able to juggle a number of tasks, collaborate, delegate, track projects and stay on schedule.

On 27th May, the iHub will host a training on project management and market research. The training will give participants the foundation, techniques, software and tools needed for top-notch management of their startup IT projects. The course will cover various themes including: Working efficiently, managing people across the organization, managing organizational resources and the use of state-of-the-art project management tools to get the work done within the constraints of time and  budget. While the course on Marketing research will cover methodology of problem solving,case study analysis then we will have a Q&A session afterwards.

The training is among a series of training that will be conducted by the iHub during the course of this year through its partnership with Making all Voices Count. Early this year, iHub joined forces with Making All Voices Count to foster stakeholder collaboration and scale existing innovations, especially those providing service delivery solutions. Through the partnership, the iHub will conduct a series of training that will provide tools to facilitate growth of startups as well as developers and designers in the community.

We conducted a needs assessment consultative meeting on 14th April to determine some of the relevant topics and training approaches to be adopted for the training/workshop. From the  meeting which was in form of a focus group discussion, we identified some of the topics to be covered in the training. The topics include; Project management, Financial management and investment, How to engage and work with the government and civil societies, legal training among others.

The first training will be on project management and Market research. We are targeting startups for the training but we are also open on having individuals who are interested in learning how to better manage and monitor their projects and team’s collaborative effort in the most efficient way possible.

Specifics about the training

Date:  May 27th 2016

Topic: Market Research

Time: 2.30 – 5.00pm

Topic: Project management

Time: 5.30 – 7.30 pm

Venue: iHub

If you are interested in any of the two training or all of them, kindly register HERE for Market Research Training and HERE for Project management training

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A Fintech Startup Offering Low Earners Salary Advances

Incubation, PIVOT EAST 2015

May 9, 2016

Have you ever been in urgent need of money to pay for hospital bill, school fees, unplanned expenses and any other emergency and it is mid month when you have no money! Worry no more, Shield Finance – a payday lending solution that enables employees to access loans directly from their mobile phones is an excellent solution to your problem

Shield is a FinTech company using proprietary technology while leveraging on Mobile money to offer underbanked employees salary advances directly to their mobile phones. The service provides a solution where employees can access salary advance quickly, conveniently and at lower interest rates saving them from the predatory mainstream payday lenders.

The service is linked with Mobile Money providers so that you can receive your money directly to your phone. Borrowers are charged a daily interest rate of 0.25 per cent day which translates to 7.5 per month on the salary advance, making it fair compared to the other mainstream salary advance companies and banks respectively.

How it works

Application for the loan is very simple. The salary advance service is accessible through USSD, mobile and web. All that applicants need is a payroll showing that the applicant works and the company has entered into an agreement with Shield Finance to provide employee data which is used to process the salary advances. They also need to include their phone number through which the money is sent

Applications can be made via web or mobile. For mobile – applicants dial a USSD code on the phone, a menu requesting the personal identification number (PIN) of the application appears on the screen. The applicant then fills in the PIN and follows prompts. Applicants who prefer to apply online will have to visit the Shield Finance website and make their request.

For the employees whose companies do not have an agreement in place, Shield Finance has rolled a mobile app that does mobile credit scoring. The app can be downloaded from Google Play Store

One of the biggest challenge that Shield Finance has faced over the past year is raising capital for on-lending. Last month, Shield Finance entered into a partnership with a local investor who will provide the startup with on-lending capital and all their funding needs. Currently the team is focused on customer acquisition, they are looking to bring on board more employers which translates to more employees.

The startup has won a number of accolade including PIVOT East,a startup competition and conference that supports high potential startups and entrepreneurs across East Africa to grow their businesses and scale. Shield won the competition in the Mobile Finance Category and got an opportunity to join the m:lab East Africa incubation program where they are currently incubated.

In Addition to PIVOT East, Shield Finance was also a finalists in the Demo Africa competition held in Lagos, Nigeria last year. They were also finalists in the seedstars World competition and recently won the Sankalp Africa Summit 2016.

For more information about Sheild Finance, Visit their website, you can also like them on facebook  and follow them on twitter @shieldfinance

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