Looking Back on KCIC in 2023

“The world is significantly off track in meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, underpinning the need for urgent action towards combating the growing threats posed by climate change. There is a glaring gap in emissions reductions, with current national commitments falling short by 20.3 to 23.9 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent, compared to the levels required to limit warming to 1.5°C by 2030.”

In a year marked by the sobering revelations of the global stocktake, which underscored the stark reality of our collective climate trajectory, KCIC redoubled its efforts to bridge the gap between ambition and action. Recognizing the pivotal role of finance, technology, technical assistance, and capacity-building, we continued to empower small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the climate space with the tools and support needed to pioneer transformative solutions across our focus thematic areas. Here are some of our 2023 highlights.

Team KCIC after the conclusion of the three-day Climate Investment Summit
Our Year in Numbers

KCIC implemented three major programmes in 2023: AgriBiz, GreenBiz, and PUSE. The AgriBiz programme focuses on accelerating women and youth-led agribusiness ventures in the country, through the support of the European Union and DANIDA. The GreenBiz programme, also funded by DANIDA, targets accelerating the commercialization and scale-up of climate enterprises and innovations in KCIC’s five thematic areas. The Productive Use of Solar Energy (PUSE) programme funded by the Mott Foundation on the other hand, supports SMEs leveraging solar energy in aquaculture, horticulture, and dairy value chains across East Africa.

KCIC also ran the annual ClimateLaunchpad (CLP) competition, the world’s largest green business ideas competition, organized by EIT Climate-KIC, co-funded by the European Union, and implemented in Kenya by KCIC.

Mr. Murabula cuts a celebratory cake to mark the launch of Kiambu Business Incubation Hub in June 2023.

In 2023, a total of 30 enterprises were supported under the PUSE programme, 209 under the GreenBiz programme, and 1075 under AgriBiz. This brings a cumulative total of enterprises incubated or accelerated since inception to 2,730 enterprises, with a commercialization rate of 65%. The cumulative total for enterprises supported by KCIC so far comes to over 3,500.  The CLP competition in 2023 saw 20 innovations proceeding to the final business bootcamp, with 3 benefitting from technical assistance, and the top 3 getting onboarded to the post accelerator programme.

In terms of CO2 mitigation, the PUSE programme saw 33,417.65 tonnes of CO2 mitigated in 2023, while the GreenBiz programme contributed to 42,214 tonnes, bringing the cumulative total since inception to 507,149 tonnes of CO2 mitigated as a result of KCIC interventions.

The PUSE programme contributed to the creation of 261 jobs, GreenBiz 1,928 jobs, while the AgriBiz programme created 3,803 jobs. This brings the total number of direct and indirect jobs now created by KCIC to 57,517, 56% of them held by women.

A total of USD 67,724.14 was leveraged for enterprises supported under PUSE, USD 98,839.42 for GreenBiz, bringing the cumulative total of funds leveraged for supported enterprises to USD 64 Million. Subsequently, under the PUSE programme, supported businesses generated revenues worth USD 948,410.99, GreenBiz had USD 1,610.14, while AgriBiz enterprises had USD 7,438,484.14, bringing the cumulative total to USD 42 Million.

KCIC Goes Regional!
KCIC Team join PUSE entrepreneurs in Tanzania for a commemorative photo following the program’s official launch and bootcamp in Dar es Salaam in July 2023

After a decade of progressively supporting climate technology entrepreneurs in Kenya, the Kenya Climate Innovation Center extended its footprint to Uganda and Tanzania with a program under its renewable energy and energy efficiency thematic area.

Funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the ‘Productive Use of Solar Energy’ (PUSE) pilot program is supporting 30 SMEs in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania that are leveraging on solar solutions in different agricultural value chains, from dairy, horticulture, and aquaculture.

“We don’t normally get such business support opportunities, for free! I have realized we’ve been skipping a lot in our business management, but I am now confident that we can take Aquacom across the border!” says John Kinyage, the CEO of Aquacom, a Tanzanian provider of solar-powered aquaculture technologies, and a beneficiary of the PUSE program.

The program signifies a remarkable stride towards sustainable energy solutions, economic growth, and environmental stewardship across East Africa. It also marks the beginning of KCIC venturing beyond Kenyan borders.

World Bank President Visits KCIC
World Bank President Ajay Banga interact with entrepreneurs during his visit at KCIC in March 2023

World Bank Group President, Ajay Banga visited KCIC in March, just months before his confirmation to the role. During his visit, Banga interacted with local entrepreneurs championing locally-led climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives supported by KCIC. Banga spoke about the need to develop a strong entrepreneurial culture in Kenya to drive transformative results in tackling climate change.

“I wanted to come and listen to those people who partner with us, like KCIC, to learn what we do well, what they want more of, what we can do differently, what their priorities are, and what their challenges are. Coming to KCIC has given me a chance to see not just economic development at work but also innovations, new ideas, new technologies, which are in the space of having circular economy done the right way.

I am so impressed by the enterprises I have seen. These may look like simple things, but they change the economy. The role of economic development cannot be divorced from climate change and resilience building. Kenya has taken lead in the renewable energy space and climate mitigation, but there’s more to be done in adaptation.” Watch video here.

Fostering Gender Inclusion in Climate
Highlight of some of the women entrepreneurs supported by KCIC

KCIC made significant strides in integrating gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) into its operations and program implementation. A gender audit was conducted within the organization, leading to the development of a comprehensive gender policy. Prioritizing capacity building, KCIC trained 77 staff members on gender equality programming, while also providing training to 179 supported enterprises on gender and human rights.

Some 119 enterprises were supported in formulating gender and safeguarding policies, thereby embedding GESI considerations into their businesses and organizations.

Notably, a male engagement initiative was piloted in Kilifi, which yielded promising results in addressing gender-based violence and enhancing female participation and retention in the KCIC AgriBiz program. To facilitate ongoing dialogue and reflection on GESI issues, KCIC initiated weekly dissemination of GESI quotes among staff and stakeholders. Additionally, gender analysis was conducted to inform programming for the Agribiz and the PUSE program, ensuring responsiveness to client needs.

These concerted efforts underline KCIC’s continued proactive commitment to advancing equity and empowerment within its operations and beyond.

4K Clubs Make a Comeback!
KCIC CEO Joseph Murabula (Right) signs a grant agreement with one of the beneficiary schools in October 2023

In a spirited move to sow the seeds of a greener and more agriculturally resilient Kenya, KCIC embarked on a transformative journey of  breathing new life into the iconic 4K Clubs, and usher in an era where agriculture is cool, productive, and forward-looking.

In partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, a dedicated team of educators, and through the EU-funded AgriBiz programme, KCIC set out to revolutionize the way the youth perceive agriculture. KCIC granted KES 10.4 Million to select 40 schools across the country to actualize projects under 4K clubs.

The initiative will go a long way in altering mindsets and perceptions surrounding agriculture, which for far too long has been seen as a dirty trade, a last resort, or a fallback option. The underlying goal is in making agriculture an appealing and prestigious career choice for the younger generation.


KCIC Holds Inaugural Climate Investment Summit
Kenya’s Climate Envoy, Amb. Ali Mohammed (Right), KCIC’s Joseph Murabula, and Board Chairman, Prof. Da Silva interact with a NAWASCOAL team during the Investment Summit.

Running from 4-6th October 2023, KCIC held the inaugural Climate Investment Summit, attracting more than 2,000 delegates drawn locally, regionally, and globally, with the overall objective of unlocking climate financing opportunities for MSME growth.

The dynamic event was organized to link groundbreaking green enterprises with potential investors. It served as a premier platform for showcasing innovative climate solutions and green investment opportunities available in Kenya and East Africa as a whole.

The three-day summit featured an action-packed agenda, with each day focusing on a key thematic area, from Climate Policy, Climate Finance, to Climate Action. The summit, which will now be held annually, embodies KCIC’s commitment to accelerating the transition to a sustainable future. It will serve as a platform where climate entrepreneurs can showcase their innovative solutions, as investors find opportunities that align profit with purpose. Immerse yourself in the summit highlights here.

From Left: EU Commissioner for International Relationships, Jutta Urpilainen, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Cooperatives and MSME, Simon Chelugui, KCIC CEO Joseph Murabula, and the EU Ambassador to Kenya, H.E Henriette Geiger during the KCIC Investment Summit
Dignitaries follow proceedings during the second day of the KCIC Investment Summit in October 2023
Notable Quotes

“This summit is our canvas, and together, we intend to create a masterpiece. A masterpiece of climate action and green entrepreneurship, in order to have a lasting impact,” said Joseph Murabula, CEO, KCIC.

“Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the climate space are our front-line warriors against climate change. They innovate. They pioneer sustainable practices. They are our bridge to a greener future, and access to finance is the key to unlocking their potential. Climate financing is therefore not just a financial transaction; it’s an investment in our collective future. It’s about safeguarding our planet for generations to come,” Joseph Murabula, CEO KCIC.

“We recognize that for over a decade now, KCIC has been instrumental in supporting MSMEs. And so on matters of policy, legislation, and regulation, we are your partners, and I commit that we will journey together,” Cooperatives and MSME CS, Simon Chelugui.

“The climate challenge calls for joint action to make our societies more sustainable and resilient in the long term. From the European Union side, the green transition is a key priority, both internally, and in our partnerships across the world,” EU Commissioner for International Relationships, Jutta Urpilainen.

“I challenge all the young entrepreneurs here that we have an investment to make, but you have to sell us an idea of creating a new Kenya that can thrive and prosper despite the challenges of climate change,” Dr. Robert Ddamulira, Mott Foundation.

“No longer is climate change a peripheral issue.  The risk and opportunities associated with it touch all aspects of government, its policies, and the society at large,”

Kenya’s policy direction is to drive a climate positive growth for the country, tapping into the enormous potential from the demographic dividend of the young educated population, to the renewable energy potential, and the rich natural resources,” Ali Mohammed, Kenya’s Climate Envoy.

“In order to accelerate and mobilize financing for climate and green growth, the region needs to undertake various interventions aimed at leveraging private capital: From developing national and regional plans, strategies, policies and regulatory frameworks, to promoting public-private partnerships, and pursuing the carbon markets as a key economic policy tool and a gateway to low carbon emissions,” Malik Aman, Program Manager, National Coordination at Climate Finance, FLLoCA.

Championing Climate Resilience at ACS and COP28
KCIC Village at the Africa Climate Summit, September 2023

With just seven years to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Africa came together in 2023 for the inaugural Africa Climate Summit (ACS) held in Nairobi from 4-6th September. It marked a significant departure from the disjointed participation of African countries in the climate conversation, to a more cohesive and continental approach. It also marked a shift from Africa merely making demands and pulling the moral card on matters climate, to a more collaborative approach with global actors, and with Africa at the decision making table.

KCIC had a special climate village at the summit, with a showcase of more than 20 climate enterprises that have been supported through various KCIC programs. It was a testament to the immense power of innovation and entrepreneurship in addressing climate change. Watch the ACS video highlight here.

Later in the year, the world gathered in Dubai for COP28, which saw among other things, the operationalization of the loss and damage fund, agreement on targets for the Global Goal on Adaptation and its framework, adoption of the Global Stock Take, building of momentum towards a new architecture for climate finance, launch of ALTRERRA, UAE’s $30 billion catalytic private finance vehicle for global climate action, as well as declarations and fund mobilization towards Agriculture Food and Climate, as well as Climate and Health.

KCIC CEO Joseph Murabula and the Chairman of the Global Carbon Council, Dr. Yousef Alhorr display the signed MoU at COP28

KCIC was represented at the COP28 by the CEO Joseph Murabula, and the Manager Corporate Services, Ernest Chitechi, who participated in key side events, speaking engagements, and partnership building. A discussion at the Trade House pavilion on ‘Leveraging Sustainable and Inclusive Finance to accelerate Climate Action in Trade’ saw KCIC share its lived experience on how to build climate resilience and market access for MSMEs.

In yet another insightful session, led by the International Trade Centre and KCIC at the blue zone, KCIC showcased the role of ecosystem enablers in empowering small businesses to take climate action and adapt to climate change. But that was not all.

On December 6, on the sidelines of COP28, KCIC and the Global Carbon Council (GCC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to accelerate carbon market actions in Kenya and the African continent at large. KCIC and GCC are synergizing efforts to promote carbon market actions, which will go a long way in building resilience.

The collaboration is poised to channel essential investments into Kenya’s GHG mitigation and adaptation projects, and eventually serve as a key enabler for African nations to meet their NDCs under the Paris Agreement.

New Knowledge and New Frontiers!
KCIC and Cleantech Estonia team at KeNIA offices

KCIC continued to make significant contributions to Kenya’s climate innovation landscape through research, advocacy initiatives, and international collaborations. The Center’s efforts focused on unlocking new knowledge through research, knowledge transfer and dissemination, and policy influence to drive sustainable growth and climate resilience in Kenya and beyond.

Some of the case studies and sector studies included the following:

  1. Formalisation for Kenyan Agribusiness Enterprises: this study involved 300 clients in the AgriBiz programme, drawn from 16 counties. It emphasized the need to formalize agribusiness enterprises and highlighted opportunities and barriers for formalisation in the sector, providing policy recommendations, and offering a “how-to guide” for the formalization process.
  2. Women and Youth in the Blue Economy: Focusing on Kilifi and Mombasa counties, the study documented best practices in the blue economy sector. It emphasized gender and youth mainstreaming into policy and development initiatives, showcasing opportunities in value addition and environmental conservation.
  3. Scoping Study on Kenya’s Digital Cleantech Ecosystem: Conducted as part of the “Estonia-Kenya Twin Transition Ecosystem Building” project, was a collaboration between Cleantech Estonia and KCIC with support from ESTDEV- Estonian Centre for International Development, aimed at addressing a critical knowledge gap by providing an overview of Kenya’s digital-cleantech ecosystem. It paved the way for a communication platform linking the digital cleantech ecosystems of both countries.
  4. Female-Led Agribusiness Enterprises and Climate Adaptation: the study highlighted climate adaptation practices among women-led enterprises in the arid and semi-arid counties of Isiolo and Makueni. It provided valuable insights into the private sector’s response to climate risks through a gender lens.
  5. Impact Assessment under AgriBiz Programme: This paper reviews and evaluates SME support services provided by KCIC under its Agribiz program. It sought to evaluate program achievements while providing evidence that can inform the practices of business incubators and development support providers in terms of program design and implementation.

The assessment confirmed that financial support has a significant impact on SME growth and job creation, consistent with existing literature. Among the non-financial support services evaluated in the study (mentorship, equipment acquisition, training, and formalization assistance), mentorship emerges as key for diversifying businesses into new value chains, while equipment acquisition enhances production efficiency. Training and mentorship are crucial for capacity building, while formalization assistance aids in expanding customer outreach.

On the policy and advocacy front, KCIC was part of key policy dialogues and submissions, among them the National Green Fiscal Incentives Policy Framework, Climate Change (Amendment) Bill, Senate Speaker’s Round Table with the Private Sector, among others.

The Center also facilitated policymaking and stakeholder engagement initiatives in Bungoma and Kisii counties, including policy review and development, as well as stakeholder sensitization and validation.

Looking Ahead: KCIC in 2024 and Beyond
The launch of the KCIC SWIFT Programme in February 2024.

At KCIC, we see the climate change challenge as an opportunity. An opportunity for innovative, creative, and sustainable solutions. In the words of the CEO, Joseph Murabula, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the climate space are our front-line warriors against climate change. They innovate. They pioneer sustainable practices. They are our bridge to a greener future. So what efforts do we intend to put in place to intensify our activities in this regard?

2025-2030 Strategic Plan: After 12 years of operation in the climate space, it is time to once again redefine the KCIC of the future. KCIC 4.0 will do just that, shaping the direction of the organization from 2025 and beyond.

Funding and Partnership Building: While KCIC remains a pioneering force in driving climate innovation and sustainable development, we have not been able to absorb all promising enterprises in the climate space. On average, only 10% of applicants are absorbed into our programmes. This is largely because of funding capacity.

KCIC will therefore be looking to diversify its funding and partnership base to include international develoment agencies, institutional funders and philanthropic organisations. Moreover, to bolster KCIC’s financial sustainability and continuity of programs implemented, the organization will also set up a KCIC revolving fund.

Building Climate Entrepreneurship Regionally: With an existing footprint in the East African region, KCIC will look to consolidate opportunities in climate entrepreneurship from a regional perspective. This will especially come in handy towards the implementation of KCIC 4.0, which will have a regional outlook.

Governance and Accountability: We look to improve the governance, management, and accountability structures for KCIC and its subsidiaries. This will go a long way in enhancing operational efficiency, maintaining public and stakeholder trust, efficiency in management of resources, strategic decision making, risk mitigation, staying true to mission, and maximising impact.

Increase in Programmes: KCIC will work to develop stand-alone programmes for each of KCIC’s thematic areas, i.e Agribusiness, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, Waste Management, Water, and Commercial Forestry. This will maximize impact and catalyze a demonstration effect of the potential in climate innovation and entrepreneurship.

By 2030, KCIC looks to support 12,000 new green businesses, create 72,000 full-time jobs in the green economy, and mitigate 1.2 Million tonnes of CO2 through our interventions.

Kenya’s Climate Envoy, Amb. Ali Mohammed confers with KCIC CEO Joseph Murabula on the state of climate action in Kenya in February 2024