Three local startups have been selected for a fully funded trip by ICT Norway to showcase at the Oslo Innovation Week in Norway where they will have an opportunity to get funding that will transform their ideas to full businesses.
The three tech enterprises, Arigiene Limited, Gjenge and Escon Leather Creations impressed a panel of judges that included ICT Norway representatives Torgeir Waterhouse and Christopher Hoff during a track event for the Nairobi Innovation Week that is currently ongoing. These startups will be funded by ICT Norway, a public sector organization that links the Norwegian ICT and startup sectors in various parts of the world.
Arigiene Limited has a unique product that solves toilet bowl water splash-back while Gjenge innovation recycles waste plastic into strong and artistic construction products. Escon Leather Creations innovation manages waste of discarded low grade hides and skins, which would otherwise be pollutants to the environment, to make leather products.The trio beat 10 other finalists at the competition organized by Pangea Accelerator.
Nzambi Matee, founder of Gjenge, expressed her gratitude and optimism for the future of entrepreneurs in Kenya. “I am really happy that I have this opportunity to attend the Oslo Innovation Week. It will be a great platform to meet new people and potential investors, acquire new knowledge and fresh ideas that will build me as an individual and benefit my company as well,” said Nzambi.
ICT Norway has collaborated with Kenya’s Ministry of ICT on a number of initiatives that gives businesses in the tech sphere an opportunity to grow. Already, the partnership saw the establishment of the Association of Startup and SME Enablers Kenya (ASSEK) that was officially launched last month. Other initiatives will include teaching children to code, strengthening technology through training, exchange programs of startups with internships between Norway and Kenya and facilitation of a yearly pan-African conference which will focus on innovation in the urbanization sector and provide a platform for an increased focus on smart city opportunities in Africa.
The Norwegian Government is keen on supporting innovation in Kenya in partnership with Strathmore University and Pangea Accelerator. We are rolling out the ICT Norway project that will see SMEs and entrepreneurship enablers access Norwegian investors and innovators starting with this exchange program,” said the Royal Norwegian Ambassador in Kenya, Elin B. Rognlie.
There has been a lot of financing opportunities for tech entrepreneurs in Kenya and the region in recent years. Just early this month Kenya and the World Bank launched an initiative aimed at providing a platform for Kenyan youth to use their talent in developing innovative solutions. The Kenya Industry and Entrepreneurship Project (KIEP) is a Sh5 billion project co-funded by the World Bank aimed at creating an industry platform to link startups, traditional industries and international networks in select private sector firms for the next 6 years.