Kenya eyes venture capital to scale up innovations

Written By: Ronald Owili
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Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina

The government is seeking to harness innovations that have increased rapidly since the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic in the country and make them commercially viable.

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Speaking during the County Government’s Resilience in the COVID-19 Era virtual conference organized by the Council of Governors held on Monday, Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina said Kenya has witnessed a boom of innovations which needed to spur Kenya’s manufacturing agenda.

Since the outbreak in March, a number of manufacturers have come up with locally solutions to bridge the gap left as a result of global supply chain disruption.

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In the last six months, Kenya has seen an increase in local production of hospital beds, hand washing machines, hand sanitizers, ventilators, and digital thermometers among others.

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“The ventilator prototypes which have been showcased are now available for clinical trials. We are now hopeful that medical practitioners amongst us will certify these so that they go into mass production.” CS Maina said.

However, limited funding has been cited as major setback for innovators wishing to scale up their solutions.

“As we create market for these products, and as we emphasize using education to support innovation through research, a lot of venture capital is required and we need to work within our financial system to support the innovators turn their goods into commercial production.” CS Maina added.

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The government is targeting to create a market for manufacturers through purchasing the goods from local producers.

CS Maina said already the government has published a list containing 334 items that will be solely be purchased by the government. This is expected to create a stable market for innovators to establish themselves in the economy.

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Venture capital

According to The Venture Capital Landscape in Africa report by the Africa Private Equity and Venture Capital Association, Kenya is among the continent’s top venture capital destinations buoyed by mushrooming startups in  fintech, utilities, logistics & transportation, e-commerce, healthcare and agribusiness sectors.

In 2019, Africa attracted venture capital deals worth Kshs 140 billion with East Africa accounting for 23 percent of the volume. Between 2014 and 2019, Kenya attracted the second largest VC deal accounting at 18 percent. South Africa and Nigeria accounted for 21 percent and 14 percent respectively.

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