Italian Agency launch Kenyan entrepreneur’s accelerator program

The accelerator accepts applications from innovative enterprises that are aligned with Kenya’s Big Four agenda and Italian excellence in Agri-food, Fashion and design, Leather, Machinery and equipment

Kenyan entrepreneurs stand a chance of building their business through an accelerator programme managed in Kenya with cooperation with Italian business.  The E4Impact Accelerator which works with Kenyan businesses, so as to support their growth, increase their revenues, guide them toward profitability and Give them partnership access to Italian businesses.

The E4Impact programme funded by the Italian Agency for Development Co-operation aims to boost the number of entrepreneurs in Kenya through exchanging ideas with their Italian counterparts.

Candidates for the Accelerator could be formal or informal, registered or to be registered in Kenya.

They will be expected to possess an innovative product/service, show post-revenue (scale-up) with existing customer base, have a team of co-founders in place with complementary skills and a clear social or environmental impact.

The accelerator accepts applications from innovative enterprises that are aligned with Kenya’s Big Four agenda and Italian excellence in Agri-food, Fashion and design, Leather, Machinery and equipment, Construction and affordable housing, Healthcare, Green businesses and renewable energy and ICT Innovations that could benefit from satellite technologies.

The Accelerator builds upon the existing partnership between the E4Impact Foundation, Tangaza University College and the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (UCSC) of Milan (Italy), who together have already trained over 300 Kenyan entrepreneurs.

The selected entrepreneurs/innovators will be involved in mentoring and coaching sessions delivered by Openet in the field of the Space Economy. They will also be directly involved in the “Space Week” that will be held in Nairobi.

Once selected, the Kenyan entrepreneurs will have access to milestone based seed grants between KSh. 500,000 to 1.5 M. They will also have a direct connection and mentor-ship with Italian & European Businesses.

Due to the training with Openet Technologies, the selected entrepreneur will have access to satellite technologies like GNSS, Earth Observation products and precision farming. Equally, the budding entrepreneurs will have access to office space for 12 months, 1 year customized training program, access to professional services like legal, accounting and marketing as well as relationships with potential investors and financial institutions.

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Citi Bank launches Volunteer Africa 2019 program for junior employees

24 employees will spend four and a half weeks in Kenya to support 16 local entrepreneurs

Citi, the leading global bank, has launched the Volunteer Africa 2019, a program that engages junior employees to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

Now in the fourth year of the program, Citi volunteers are returning to Kenya where the program started in 2016. This year, 24 Junior Bankers will spend four and a half weeks working with local entrepreneurs based in Nakuru and Eldoret, using their skills and experience to help them to improve the overall business including growth, employment, and future investment opportunities.

Citi has been operating in Kenya since 1974, serving Corporate and Institutional clients. Volunteer Africa demonstrates Citi’s ongoing commitment to the country, driving economic growth at the community level.

Citi joins forces with Balloon Ventures, a social enterprise that runs development programs to give micro-enterprises the training, funding and support needed to grow, create jobs and build communities. Balloon has identified 16 entrepreneurs that the Citi volunteers will work with throughout the program. The entrepreneurs run a broad range of small businesses including agriculture, small scale manufacturing, agro-processing, media, retail and education.

Manolo Falcó, Global Co-Head of BCMA at Citi, commented, “This is the fourth year of the program and we are immensely excited about what will be achieved and the long term impact for both volunteers and entrepreneurs. The past editions of the program demonstrated the transformational impact that Citi volunteers can make by supporting the entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, employ others and build local economies.”

Tyler Dickson, Global Co-Head of BCMA at Citi, added: “We are particularly pleased that this year the program is becoming even more global. It will see junior employees from across BCMA and Markets & Securities Services around the world working side-by-side in Kenya, a fantastic and unique opportunity for volunteers to build networks across businesses and geographies.”

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Kenya is one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s fastest-growing economies. It boasts a youthful population, improving infrastructure, dynamic private sector, and rich natural resources but it faces the challenges of poverty and inequality. With 75% of the working population employed in the informal sector, there is great scope for entrepreneurial SMEs to provide decent work and drive inclusive economic growth.

The Volunteer Africa program is helping achieve these objectives. Balloon Ventures has undertaken research on the cohort of entrepreneurs who participated in the previous edition in Kenya. The research shows that, on average, entrepreneurs experienced a 41% increase in income and a 53% increase in profit nine months after completing the program.

Paul is one of the entrepreneurs we supported in 2016. He makes sugar cane juice. When Citi volunteers met him, he had a locally made machine to crush raw sugar cane and one member of staff selling his juice from a small shop off the high street.

Since then, he has imported two food grade machines from Asia that enabled him to increase sugar cane juice production by 1000%. He now has two outlets and a team of five agents selling his juice on the streets of Nakuru every day, and his revenue has grown eight times since his participation in the program.

Paco Ybarra, Global Head of Markets & Securities Services, commented, “We are involved in the Volunteer Africa program for the second year, this time at a global level. We have followed the project closely and can see the direct impact it has, not only on the entrepreneurs we work with on the ground, but also for our employees. It enables Citi’s Junior Bankers to develop their skills, build their knowledge of developing economies, establish strong networks and have the opportunity to affect real change in the community.”

The Citi Volunteer Africa program launched in April 2016. The pilot edition saw 12 Analysts and Associates from Citi’s Corporate and Investment Bank in EMEA volunteer in Kenya. Since then the program has doubled in size and gone global, with more than 60 volunteers from Citi’s BCMA and Markets & Securities Services businesses around the world participating to date, supporting more than 40 small businesses in Kenya and Uganda.

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Nigerian online trading Jiji to the rescue of OLX in key African countries

Jiji – the largest classifieds marketplace in Nigeria – has reached an agreement to redirect OLX users in Nigeria to Jiji and to acquire OLX businesses in four other countries, building a leading pan-African classifieds business

OLX, online classfied portal has been a major player in the African market for almost a decade even from its original name Dealfish.  However, things have not been going well for the online platform as new entrants including Jumia has pushed it to the blink.

And now Nigerians have come to the rescue in the name of Jiji.

Jiji and OLX have announced that both companies have reached an agreement under which Jiji will acquire OLX businesses in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, pending certain regulatory approvals, and OLX users in Nigeria will be redirected to Jiji. The transaction is backed by one of Jiji’s cornerstone investors, Digital Spring Ventures.

Joining Jiji’s family will allow OLX users in these countries to benefit from Jiji’s market-leading products and services. OLX’s reach, combined with Jiji’s own proprietary search and delivery algorithms, will create a beneficial combination – giving users a radically streamlined experience and making the buying and selling process more convenient.

Anton Volyansky, CEO and co-founder of Jiji commented, “Users will always come first for us. We warmly welcome OLX’s customers to the Jiji family and we look forward to our new customers joining Jiji on its journey to empower the lives of its customers by providing a safer, more secure and enjoyable online shopping experience”.

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Vladimir Mnogoletniy, Board Director and co-founder of Jiji commented, “We believe that this transaction is pivotal for Jiji’s business. We are a long-term investor in Africa and believe in the exceptional opportunities that exist in this amazing continent. With this transaction we plan to build the largest Africa-based classifieds business, creating a new experience for Africa’s fastest-developing countries and their combined population of 300 million. We firmly believe that in the next 2-3 years ours will be one of the top 10 classifieds businesses in the world by traffic.”

The ever expanding e-commerce industry in Africa also a tricky maze

Sjoerd Nikkelen, General Manager of OLX in Africa, Middle East and Asia comments “We are proud of our achievements in Africa, including the sustainable businesses we have built in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. We continually evaluate our portfolio of classifieds businesses to ensure a disciplined approach to how and where we allocate capital and management time. With our focus on accelerating the growth of other markets, now is an opportune time to sell our interests in these markets. We are pleased that Jiji will continue to provide the exceptional quality of products and services that the customers in these countries have come to know and enjoy from OLX.”

Zhanibek Sydykov, Partner at Digital Spring Ventures, commented, “We are pleased to be able to assist our partners at Jiji on this transaction, and we strongly believe that the combined Jiji and OLX businesses will become a formidable force in the African e-commerce market. This transaction further advances the consumer reach of one of the star portfolio companies in our current fund, which is focused on partnering with ambitious entrepreneurs to deploy capital in the internet and technology sectors in some of the world’s most exciting emerging markets.”

Following closing of the transaction (which is expected to occur once certain regulatory approvals have been obtained), all users of the sell-and-buy classifieds websites of OLX Nigeria, OLX Ghana, OLX Kenya, OLX Tanzania, and OLX Uganda will be redirected to Jiji. The Jiji team will strive to make the transfer seamless, and to provide a high-quality user experience across all geographies.

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Kenyan based entrepreneurs launch talk forums

The concept is centered around new, innovative entrepreneurship-related topics to be discussed or presented in an interactive session where they strongly encourage participation by the audience.

Nairobi is expected to host a new series of entrepreneurial discussions and talks that will promote the growth of businesses in the region.

Kaleidoscope Africa is an initiative by four successful Nairobi-based entrepreneurs, aiming to create a forum for the entrepreneurship community of Nairobi.

The concept is centered around new, innovative entrepreneurship-related topics to be discussed or presented in an interactive session where they strongly encourage participation by the audience.  Before and after the main content, participants mingle and network.

Havar Bauck, a Nairobi based perennial entrepreneur and the co-founder of HotelOnline, who is one of the initiators of the talk show notes that the aim to bring together entrepreneurs, investors, entrepreneurship enablers, and managers from international tech companies, and carefully select topics to appeal to those target groups.

“We believe that by bringing together the stakeholders of the entrepreneurship community, we can trigger the kind of interactions that may bring the whole community forward.  At the same time, we believe that the content in itself must be so interesting and innovative that all participants can go home feeling they learnt something from the session,” notes Bauck.

Others who have partnered with Bauck to start Kaleidoscope Africa are Preben Wik, Jesper Hörnberg  and Joram Mwinamo.

Kaleidoscope Africa is a non-profit initiative. Bauck adds, “We are doing this because we are all passionate about entrepreneurship, and because we have already walked down that path of blood, sweat and tears before we succeeded.  We believe that by sharing our experience, and bringing people together to exchange their knowledge and ideas, we can help boost and promote entrepreneurship in Kenya.  To us, that is a big goal in itself.”

Bauck notes that Kenya is one of the hottest investment destinations in Africa with young, innovative startups that are attracting investments at an unprecedented rate, while international Venture Capital (VC) firms are flocking to Nairobi like never before. 

“Nairobi and Silicon Valley are far apart, though. Not just in terms of kilometers.  Goals and mindsets are also widely different, and the approaches to building and scaling startups, may even be on different planets.”

Kaleidoscope Africa is organizing these monthly talks with the next talk show being at the Nailab with the tittle ‘The Understanding Gap: Kenyan Startups vs. International VCs ‘. The show will focus on how can Kenyan startups can better prepare themselves for the international VCs, and what do the Vcs need to understand before sitting down with their next prospective investment case.

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