Global Tech Investor Techstars selects its first company from East Africa
The international investors that have boosted more than 650 technology startups have thrown their weight behind their first East African company, Kenya’s Bamba Group. US accelerator TechStars believes Kenya's Bamba Group could be the next AirBnB or Dropbox within the next five years.
The experts will put Bamba through intensive training in Austin, Texas, and give them a cash investment to fast-track their growth.
TechStars Austin Managing Director, Amos Schwartzfarb, said: “We are very happy to select the first company from East Africa into the TechStars programme. Bamba Group is a testament to our globalized world where a startup from any corner of the planet can rise up, pursue their passion and make a lasting impact on the world.”
Bamba Group, a Nairobi-based business founded 3 years ago, developed a data collection software that can run in any country. It is the only company in the world that will send a mobile airtime payment directly to your phone when you submit data in as many as 122 countries.
The cloud-based system is used by major not-for-profit and for-profit companies in Kenya including Aga Khan Foundation, Nairobi Airport Services, and Diamond Trust Bank.
Bamba Group CEO Al Ismaili is thrilled his company is among the 2% of the applicants who are accepted into the programme.
He said: “It is our employees that are most deserving of this selection. We now look forward to the next stage of our growth with a new saying around the office - something we now hear regularly from our new mentors at TechStars - ‘Do More Faster’. We hope to make Africa proud”.
Mr Ismaili along with two other co-founders Faiz Hirani and Shehzad Tejani will attend a 13-week acceleration programme for hands-on mentorship and gain access to the TechStars Network, which includes more than 5000 people including founders, alumni, and global mentors. Following the initial financial investment from TechStars, companies go on to raise an average of over $3million in capital after the programme.
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary of Information, Communications and Technology (ICT), Mr Joe Mucheru, added: “I congratulate Bamba Group for this great opportunity and hope they will inspire many more start-ups to get recognised globally.”
Bamba has embedded itself as a staple in the Kenyan software scene. This is evident through its participation in the Presidential Digi-talent Programme (PDTP), a public–private partnership run by the ICT Authority in Kenya and commissioned by the President of Kenya.
ICT graduates from Kenyan universities are selected for the one-year programme that includes world-class software training, soft-skills training, mentoring and guaranteed internships in both the public and private sector firms involved. Other organizations involved in this programme include Google, Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, Cisco and PwC.
PDTP Advisory Council Chairman and Technology Partner at PwC Muchemi Wambugu understands what it takes to sit alongside these top firms from his days working in Silicon Valley for a tech giant IBM.
Mr Wambugu said:"Bamba Group has been a huge asset in our Advisory Council and by extension to our society. PDTP aims to build technology capacity for Government and enrich our already vibrant technology ecosystem. Bamba software was used to capture, monitor and evaluate the interactions between the programme mentors and interns. Al holds a seat on our council and his contributions have been tremendous. He and his firm are well deserving of their selection into one of the world’s top accelerators and we are proud of this young Kenyan firm.”
Cabinet Secretary Mucheru added:“Kenya recognises the economic and social benefit of innovation and entrepreneurship”. Bamba is committed to bringing the Silicon Valley start-up culture into Kenya in order to brew innovation and attract top talent in line with the country’s vision 2030 and National ICT Masterplan 2017.
Bamba Group Project Manager, Peter Onkendi, said: “Working for Bamba Group has been an amazing experience. The company's culture is fantastic and I look forward to everyday at the office. What we are doing is very exciting and with Bamba being accepted to the TechStars 2016 programme I look forward to the opportunities ahead.”