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m:lab By John Kieti / April 14, 2012

Mini-MBA Training and Start-Up Capital for Early Stage Businesses in Kenya


In Kenya, entrepreneurs with big ideas in the start-up or early stage of growing their businesses continue to find increasing opportunities to access capital and training needed to succeed. One of the opportunities is through the Sinapis 2012 Entrepreneur Fellowship Program. Sinapis is an NGO in Nairobi providing advanced business training, investment capital and mentorship for the most innovative, scalable and sustainable start-ups in Kenya.

Sinapis partners with Acton Business School, an accredited and highly ranked MBA school in the US. Accepted entrepreneurs receive six months of intensive, advanced business training that is customized for early stage businesses. The highest performers that graduate from the Sinapis Entrepreneur Fellowship Program get to compete in front of investors from the US for investment capital of between $10-$100,000. Those that graduate from the program also receive a Certificate in Entrepreneurship from Acton Business School giving them more credibility as business leaders and are presented to other growth financing institutions for larger, secondary rounds of financing. Sinapis is highly selective and is looking for serious entrepreneurs that are dedicated to bringing their idea to fruition.

Businesses must be less than 2 years in operations to qualify, and the CEO must be Kenyan. Though Sinapis accepts businesses across all sectors if they meet their criteria, this year they are especially interested in Agribusiness, IT and Green Technologies businesses. The program is not academic or theoretical in nature but rather practical and focuses on applying concepts learned in class in each entrepreneur’s business. Entrepreneurs joining the program will attend 6 hours of class per week in the evenings and be expected to spend 15 hours on implementation within their businesses.

The program is one of Kenya’s most comprehensive efforts in entrepreneurship training with an access to capital component. Sinapis estimates it to cost nearly Ksh 1 million to put each entrepreneur through our program. In exchange for tuition, Sinapis asks that each business accepted into its program donate 10% of its equity to the NGO. Should Sinapis graduates do well, Sinapis will use the returns from this equity to fund the next generation of start-up entrepreneurs to go through its program. In this way, it is expected successful Kenyan entrepreneurs of today will help tomorrow’s entrepreneurs to be successful and a virtuous cycle will be sustained. If a business does not successfully receive investment capital from the program’s investor base, Sinapis will relinquish the equity in that business. Sinapis also charges a small materials fee of Ksh 24,000 which will be paid in three installments over the six month period. Scholarships may be available for those who truly need it.

The application deadline for the fellowship program is May 15, 2012. Interested candidates may apply online  here

More information can be found on their website  In addition, an info session on the fellowship program has been scheduled with details below:

Where: Biblica Africa conference room,  Dennis Pritt Road, Caledonia Nairobi

When: Thursday, April 19 7-9pm

Why: To answer questions about the Sinapis Entrepreneur Fellows Program from potential applicants. Light food and beverages will be served.

Entrepreneurs interested in the information session may RSVP to

Author : John Kieti

John Kieti is the Lead at m:lab East Africa. He is an exponent for mobile entrepreneurship and an experienced m4d professional. John is passionate about the growth of East Africa's knowledge economy. He holds an MBA and BSc in Computer Science. He also occasionally shares his thoughts about East Africa's knowledge economy on his blog -

  • Pivot East Blog at 11:51:32AM Saturday, April 14, 2012

    [...] This article is cross posted from the iHub blog here [...]

  • Mark at 08:27:17AM Monday, April 16, 2012

    I’m a graduate of the Fellowship Program and can’t wait to see who applies. Brilliant coursework and one of the best ones out there in my opinion.


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