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Silicon Savannah

Question: Silicon Savannah - a place full of co-founders, serial entrepreneurs, leaders, starters, and dreamers. Where problems are called challenges, and faces light up when the conversation turns to tackling issues like waste disposal, poverty, and water. Kenyans see these problems as opportunities for new businesses and initiatives. But, I quickly discovered that some of the business models I saw in Kenya would never work in Europe. Nevertheless, they are a great source of inspiration on how to approach local issues and business model design creatively.

In short

2019 // 2 months // Kenya
Visiting and interacting with 14 start-ups, 3 coworking spaces, the UN-Habitat, the Danish Embassy, 7 interviews, 3 networking events, and 3 accelerator programs.
New Business Model Framework for Grassroots Innovation informed by 4 in-depth case studies

Tools

ethnographic research
framework development
innovation for sustainability

Flow

14 start-ups, three coworking spaces, the UN-Habitat, the Danish Embassy, seven interviews, three events, and three accelerator programs in 14 days. That was my itinerary which was followed by a 5 weeks field research on several case studies of grassroots innovation. Every morning I would sit on a chair, eating porridge and gazing at a massive tree in the garden. Before my Taxify arrived, I would pack a voice recorder, water bottle, and phone charger in my backpack, then scribble some last-minute notes and questions in a notebook. I wouldn’t return home until the sun had set and that big, beautiful tree was shrouded in darkness. Most of the people I met had no idea who I was and still, everybody was surprisingly forthcoming. They shared their stories and opinions about tech, the startup scene, their personal lives, and the future of Kenya.

Learnings

Learnings

Inspiration for the future - The future of Silicon Savannah is probably not that fanciful. Instead, it will be focused on the practicalities of creating a cleaner, safer, and healthier environment. Plastic bags are already banned in Kenya and banning plastic bottles, straws, and cans could be the next step towards the prevention of waste creation. Technology is, of course, an important topic when talking about the future of Kenya. In coming years, there will be more and more use cases for new technology, and the Kenyan government recently legalised the use of drones, something which just a few months ago could have landed you a hefty fine or a spell in prison. Drones could be used to deliver medicine, scan unknown parts of the underwater world, plant trees. or protect houses from external dangers. In conclusion, my time in Kenya made me understand what it takes to tackle issues with a hands-on attitude. It also taught me to look at technology from a different perspective. Technology is important to consider when starting a business, and it helps businesses scale and have a greater impact. Still, looking into the future, technology will not be the magic bullet that solves all of our global challenges. People matter. Interestingly, Judith, as an IT nerd, defined future technology as an enabler. Just one part of the magic equation needed for an even more colourful future!

Partners

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Shifra