Induction for newer KCIC incubation entrepreneurs
Last Friday, 3rd May 2019, Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC) hosted an induction event for its newer incubation clients. Entrepreneurs in the spaces of agribusiness, water management, and renewable energy were introduced to the services that KCIC offers its clients. A discussion was had about what the inductees hope to get out of KCIC, and a special presentation was given about the importance of monitoring and evaluation (M&E)- especially for the purpose of securing financing. The event also offered clients an opportunity to network with one another.
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Agribusiness, water management, and renewable energy entrepreneurs attend KCIC induction
Some of the 23 attendees included Maxfinley’s Tools and Instruments, Solar Freeze, F&M Industries, Supacon Limited, and Bioafriq Energy. Maxfinley’s manufactures solar water pumps; Solar Freeze provides small-scale farmers with solar-powered refrigeration units; F&M Industries fabricates a 4-in-1 clean cookstove that uses briquettes, LPG, biogas, and sawdust as sources of energy; Supacon Limited produces a “Dawa”-inspired lemon drink; and Bioafriq Energy manufactures biomass pellets and a clean cookstove.
Business advisory, enabling environment, and access to information and facilities for entrepreneurs
Several of KCIC’s business analysts, such as Kennedy Mugo, Peninah Warura, and Lydia Theuri explained to the clients about the services available to them, such as business advisory, access to information, and access to facilities. This includes technical expertise and mentorship in business management, trainings that equip entrepreneurs with competencies to turn appropriate technologies into viable businesses, and market development. Clients are also able to utilize KCIC’s co-working space, housed at Strathmore Business School, and are given access to technical facilities for testing and demonstration.
Additionally, business analyst Nicholas Koigu discussed with the entrepreneurs about how KCIC works to create an enabling environment for them. Specifically, KCIC leverages the direct experience of private sector innovators to inform relevant government regulations, policies and strategies to encourage the adoption of profitable local innovation. The key areas of support include policy advice and advocacy as well as research. One such example is the recent policy dialogue KCIC hosted on sustainability in the agriculture sector.
Financing options for incubation entrepreneurs
Business analyst Ann Kitonga explained to the incubation clients the fifth service available to them- access to finance. For clients who are still in the incubation stage, one of the main financing mechanisms that they can apply for is a POC (proof of concept) grant. A matching grant, whose ratio is determined on a case-by-case basis, ensures that the entrepreneur has a vested interest in their business and also provides them with much-needed capital.
Ms. Kitonga also discussed with the inductees about how KCIC informs them of external funding opportunities; specifically, the bimonthly KCIC newsletter (to which anyone can subscribe at the bottom of our website) features opportunities for grants, scholarships, and awards with monetary prizes; additionally, client leads inform the entrepreneurs directly about opportunities that may be suitable to them and also help them with the application process.
Networking among KCIC entrepreneurs
Next, Client Services Manager Felix Magaju had an open discussion with the clients about what they are looking for from KCIC. One topic that came up was a desire for networking and communication opportunities between clients. As such, KCIC has already developed an online platform for clients to be able to talk to one another and share opportunities or concerns with each other. Mr. Magaju stressed to them that they can achieve even greater things if they work together, and also that KCIC has an open-door policy whereby clients can reach out to business analysts for any issue they may have.
The importance of M&E for entrepreneurs
Finally, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer Stephen Musyoka presented to the inductees about the importance of implementing M&E into their operations. In particular, having accurate data can help startups in acquiring funding. As Mr. Musyoka stated, "Funds nowadays are themed. You need to show donors that you are impacting women, health, the agriculture value chain, and so on. You need to be able to report this information." Furthermore, M&E is invaluable for learning purposes, which is essential for startups. Even basic data about employees and sales, for example, can help companies grow.
Overall, the incubation induction was a great way for newer KCIC clients to get a strong grasp on the services available to them, voice their desires, and network with one another.
By: Alise Brillault