Young companies face a lot challenges during the startup phase of operations. Some of the challenges especially for tech startups include; lack of seed funding, tech-enabled office space and mentorship program. These among others are the challenges that hinder and contribute to the slow growth of startups. The vision of m:lab East Africa is to be a leader in identifying, nurturing and helping to build sustainable businesses in the knowledge economy. This is achieved through the incubation program where startups with the greatest potential are helped to grow and compete effectively in the global market.
The startups have access to physical space for working, internet and other business facilities at subsidized rates. They also benefit from intense and customized entrepreneurship training, hours of coaching and business advisory and also receive support, advice and linkage to access early stage funding.
In 2011 m:lab East Africa welcomed seven mobile startups for resident incubation program. In the two year, we have seen tremendous growth from the startups with two startups Kopo Kopo and MedAfrica graduating out of incubation program after 9 months of incubation. The startups incubated at m:lab include; Kopo Kopo, MedAfrica, M-Farm, Uhasibu, Whive, Zege Technologies and MTL. Eneza Education formerly known as Mprep joined the incubation program last year.
Kopo Kopo - Kopo Kopo makes it possible for any small and medium business (SMB) in emerging economies to accept mobile money payments. (e.g. Safaricom M-Pesa, Airtel Money). Kopo Kopo entered into a partnership with Safaricom to bring the M-PESA buy goods services to small and medium businesses throughout Kenya and today, they serve hundreds of businesses from salons to restaurants to office supply. Kopo Kopo graduated from the incubation program at m:lab after nine months. The organization started with a team of four members, currently the organization has over thirty (20) employees.
MedAfrica - MedAfrica is a Medical Services Content Platform that seeks to create health awareness among consumers from the comfort of their mobile phones. MedAfrica was the overall winner of Pivot25 and winner in the mobile Health Category. They graduated from the incubation program at m:lab after nine months. Last year MedAfrica won the Global Ericsson Application Award in the company category, where they were awarded with prize money of 15,000 Euros. They were also mentioned in the best top 10 mobile Apps in Africa.
M-Farm - M-Farm Limited is an award winning software solution and agribusiness company, it works as a transparency tool. It is an SMS-based information service where farmers SMS the number 3535 to get information pertaining to the retail price of their products, buying their farm inputs directly from manufacturers at favorable prices, and finding buyers for their produce. M-Farm was mentioned in the best top 10 mobile Apps in Africa.
Uhasibu - Uhasibu is an award winning internet (cloud-based) accounting system for small & medium companies in East Africa. It helps in generating KRA format VAT reports, petty cash management and other financial management features. It also supports East African Currencies and is accessible for sh1,000 per month. Uhasibu won in the Business and Enterprise category at Pivot25, they also won the best Innovator in the 2012 AITEC Banking and Mobile Money Comesa Conference, as well as a Kenya ICT Board commendation in financial service.
Zege Technologies -Zege Technologies’ M-PAYER is a product that eases and automates the process of frequent payments through Mobile Money. It creates and expedites Mobile Money payments where transactions are done on demand as opposed to batch scheduled requests. Zege Technologies won the Young Innovators award and they were also referred by The Daily Nation as one of “Africa’s hottest techies.
Whive - Whive is a Social Media Platform for start-ups who need to power their applications using Social Media. The application allows Whive Subscribers to communicate with contacts, friends via SMS, messaging and other social media. Whive won in the mobile Gaming, Utility and Entertainment Category at Pivot25. They are also beneficiaries of funding from Nokia Corporation under the Open Screen Fund. In 2011, Whive won Kenya Vision 2030 Award for innovation in ICT for Youth, Gender and Vulnerable groups.
MTL Systems – They are popularly known for their M-Shop application. This is a platform that allows consumers to order, pay for, obtain and validate tickets for events, travel, goods & services. The company emerged the winner of Pivot25’s mobile payment and commerce category.
M:lab East Africa will be welcoming newmobile startups for resident incubation program on 2nd September 2013.