The just concluded 4th Sankalp Summit 2017 brought together participants from the Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC) and the Climate Technology Program (CTP) in Nairobi to share ideas on how to spur the growth of Africa’s entrepreneurship economy. The forum that attracted more than 900 attendees provided an ideal networking space for entrepreneurs and investors at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies (KSMS).
Prior to the summit, the KCIC/CTP was engaged in a two-day annual meeting to train and equip the CICs from Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Carribean, Ghana, South Africa, Morocco and Vietnam on incubation management and sustainability. The network aims to connect the CICs, their clients, and other stakeholders for knowledge sharing and capacity building. Participants had the opportunity to contribute to solving challenges, sharing best practices, and forging new partnerships within the incubation and acceleration community.
The session on financial sustainability was to help the CICs to understand their business model and ways that an incubator can be sustainable. All the six CICs shared their financial models which turned out to be similar. Most of the cross cutting expenses they incurred are in the POC grants, policy research, consultancy services, networking and operational costs. Tips on how to manage existing funds and secure public support through branding and marketing were also shared.
Incubators should be fully aware of their ecosystem and know who is in it and what role they play. The function of intermediaries in the ecosystem and how the CICs and other incubators can connect with those various stakeholders to ensure success and continuity of the business is important. Sourcing for services within the ecosystem or consortium ensures that expenses are reduced by a considerable amount as opposed to using external consultants whose charges are much higher.
During the training, a debate on if pipeline development be “owned” by individual organizations or the community at large was conducted and the various teams gave their input. A handful of strongly opinionated participants actively debated on the topic as the pros and cons of being on either side were shared. A fireside chat was hosted by the founder of Frontier Energy Donn Tice. He shared on the role of government in contributing an enabling environment for renewable energy businesses by having favorable policies, ensuring a level playing filed and supporting private sector collaborations.
Tice emphasized on the importance of supporting innovation, taking risks and making a sustained commitment to creating a strong network for clean tech entrepreneurs in developing markets.
The incubators across Africa had follow up discussions to build an action plan on the way forward for Incubator sustainability and growth discussed ways in which they could localize ecosystem development in the various CICs.
On mentorship for the incubates, the team noted that finding the mentor is normally not the problem. Getting them to walk with them is the challenge. Commitment of the mentors is a contributing factor to the development of the entrepreneur businesses.
The summit also saw 13 clients form KCIC exhibiting their products and services. These include Ukulima Tech, Afric Aqua, Azuri Health Limited, Strauss Energy, Future Pump, Wisdom Innovations, Wanda Organics, Swiss Quest, Consumer Choice Ltd, Hydroponics Africa, Kings Bio Fuel, Safi Organics and Eco Agribusiness Limited.