Enablis, NetHope, shortlist 82 in technology ideas competition

By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya

Eighty-two technology ideas have qualified for the second round in the ongoing IT business ideas competition being run by Enablis East Africa and NetHope.

The finalists have been picked from 139 who participated in the Growing IT competition launched in mid June.

The 82 will now be trained in presentation skills after which they will pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges who will select the best 50 IT enthusiasts who will be supported to start and grow their businesses.

“The competition is aimed at identifying IT enthusiast to be nurtured into successful entrepreneurs. The competition attracted youthful budding entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 35,” said Fredrick Kariuki, the chief executive of Enablis East Africa.

NetHope, a nonprofit consortium of international NGOs, will provide learning skills and resources, while Enablis will provide coaching, mentoring and networking.

“We look forward to seeing how these tech savvy youth will work with Enablis’ wide network of entrepreneurs to not only develop IT businesses for themselves, but also to share insight into how other entrepreneurs can become even more effective through the use of ICTs,” said NetHope Academy Africa Programme Manager Lisa Obradovich.

The one-year project – running in three countries, Kenya, Rwanda and Ghana – is targeting IT techies from universities, technical institutions, and technological incubation centres among other areas. The project will support a total of 100 ideas in the three countries.

The selected techies will be trained on how to draw up a fundable business plan, how to start and run their businesses effectively and will also have access to platforms aimed at creating marketing linkages and funding for their businesses.

Kariuki said ideas came from different segments in the IT Industry and included innovative solutions geared at improving the education, housing, communication and agriculture. Of the applications received 15 per cent were of existing businesses, with the rest being ideas in the concept stage.

Few women

He said less than 10% of the entrants in the Growing IT competition were women, reflecting the need to encourage more women to join the IT space.

“The IT industry presents the fastest growing segment of SMEs and the industry is also labour driven,” Kariuki said. “Needless to say, the giants in the industry are almost all youthful anywhere in the world, which is a huge motivating factor to the youth we seek to nurture and grow. The government is also at the forefront of creating the necessary physical and non-physical infrastructure on which the industry would thrive.”

The NetHope Academy designs, develops and implements ICT capacity building programs in the Africa, Latin America and Asia. “Our goal is to strengthen information and communication technology (ICT) skills through training, online learning and access to professionals within the technology community,” said Obradovich.

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