Kenya: Open of Business says inclusion can fuel tech & start-up communities

Author: Open For Business, Published on: 26 February 2019

"How inclusion can fuel Kenya’s tech and start-up communities"

Kenya has one of the continent’s largest high-tech start-up scenes: in 2017, it received 26% of all start-up funding in Africa. However, in recent years, Nairobi’s dominance has been waning, as early start-ups fail and more cities in Africa attract start-up funding. For example, Konza Technology City, a cornerstone of Vision 2030, has failed to take off, as international interest has moved on to Rwanda’s Kigali Innovation City.

Over the recent years, initiatives have been launched to foster tech hubs in a number of Kenyan cities, including Mombasa (SwahiliBox), Kisumu (LakeHub), Eldoret (Dlab Hub) and Voi (Sote Hub). For these to be successful, they need to be part of an overall “innovation ecosystem”: globally integrated, with a culture of openness and inclusion – allowing for a free flow of ideas and human capital to take those ideas to market. Evidence shows that innovation is greater when people with diverse backgrounds are able to freely contribute their ideas and perspectives.

While there are many policies and regulations that are necessary to bolster performance, research shows that openness and inclusion, particularly LGBT+ inclusion, creates a favourable environment for startup ecosystems to flourish. For example:

  • LGBT+ inclusive cities have higher levels of entrepreneurialism, research has shown. These entrepreneurs tend to start companies in higher value service sectors.

  • More than half of graduates from cities in a number of countries are likely to emigrate, according to an OECD study. These cities tend to have laws that discriminate against their LGBT+ citizens. A study of Kenyan youth found that 65% would like to leave Kenya in search of better job opportunities. Being more LGBT+ inclusive could create a more progressive culture that retains more young people

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