We did it! The first Latitude59 satellite event in Kenya, Nairobi is done! And we could not be prouder of everyone who joined in on the next step of the mission – connecting startup ecosystems around the world.
Over 700 people attended the Sarit Expo Centre, from all around Africa – including the highest number of Baltic and Nordic people known to gather in one place in Kenya! We heard feedback that 30% of all Estonians working on the African continent were present in that one room on December 6, at Latitude59 Kenya Edition. What a way to kick off our global satellite series!
“Latitude59 Kenya Edition was even bigger and more successful than we dared to hope. And this just the beginning of our bigger vision of building a Global Village, bringing diverse communities together to make the tech world more human. Working on another continent was a new challenge for our team, but it was an amazing experience, well worth it, and we are so proud of what we put together,” says Liisi Org, the CEO of Latitude59.
Kenyan startup ecosystem - Latitude59's first stop on a mission to unite the global village of tech & startups
Kenya has been hovering on the horizon for Latitude59 for almost a year. While organizing Latitude59 in Tallinn in 2023, we got suggestions that what we are doing in Estonia is worthy of export; that Latitude59 should have a presence in Africa, and more specifically – Kenya. It turns out that Kenya is a great window to the rest of Africa for anyone seeking to expand.
Kenyan startup ecosystem is ranked as the first in East Africa, and growing fast. It’s a mobile-first society, with a very young population that’s eager to find creative solutions for acute problems – all of this is something we are eager to get to know better, learn from, and see how we could implement the knowledge and experience in other contexts. Mobile tech and internet connectivity are everywhere, creating opportunities for startups. The market isn’t saturated, providing chances for both simple solutions and complex innovations, especially in areas like medtech. Afrikahealthnetwork is a prime example, integrating new departments into hospitals and offering essential services.
The main topics under scrutiny in Kenya are a bit different from those in our region, but the common denominator seems to be access, whether it is in fintech or digitalization, logistics or ecosystem support. We have a lot to learn from each other and we’re glad to see that our communities are now much closer – new connections were made and windows of communication opened. We’re glad to say that the collaboration will continue with many of our fresh partners from the Kenya satellite.
The next generation of Kenyan startups & the winners of L59 Pitch Competition in Kenya
Our Pitch Competition announcement attracted over 100 applications from all around Africa. Just 20% of them were selected to pitch at the prefinals. While originally we planned to present 5 founders on the stage of the finals, the preparation round surprised everyone with such strong competiton that eventually 9 startups made the cut:
- MyShule – MyShule is a safe and reliable school transport solution powered by platform technology and analytics driven operations.
- Skizaa – Skizaa supports NGOs and NonProfits with data collection and analysis in last mile schools across Sub-Saharan Africa.
- Kiotapay – Platform empowering property owners to automate operations, bill tenants, collect and spend their money on one platform.
- ZofiCash – Zofi Cash is a digital financial platform taking care of employee’s financial emergencies before the 30-day pay cycle.
- Chumz.io – Chumz has developed a gamified savings product that leverages behavioral psychology to help individuals save at low cost.
- Iamnativ – Iamnativ is an award winning platform and app connecting the best media crews and creatives in Africa with the world.
- Kidaftari ERP – Kidaftari is an innovative ERP that additionally automates payments, receipts & reduced frequent Bank reconciliation.
- ToffeeTribe – ToffeeTribe repurposes restaurants into co-working spaces, uniting Africa’s remote workers.
- Pakia Transport – Pakia is an e-logistics platform that seeks to solve logistic problems to individuals and manufacturing companies.
We are grateful for Startup Wise Guys for powering the competiton and supporting us along the way, especially Karina Lapina and Petra Wolkenstein. For many, the pitching of up-and-coming startups was the highlight of the whole conference. So who won?
- Chumz.io was selected as the overall winner, securing a trip to Latitude59 2024 in Tallinn, covered by Latitude59
- Pakia Transport received the “Talk the walk” award from Infobip – $20K service credits
- Chumz.io, Kidaftari ERP, ToffeeTribe – Coworking membership by the Nairobi Garage
- Chumz.io, ZofiCash, Kiotapay – 3h of legal counselling by KTA Advocates
- MyShule, ToffeeTribe, Iamnativ – a spot in the upcoming Africa program by Startup Wise Guys
- In addition, all 9 finalists received 20% discount & a 6-month free subscription to Sync by Spurt!
The community, the heart of the ecosystem
“I have been to many startup ecosystems all around the world, but never felt so welcomed as we did in Kenya. The people we got to meet and work with were so open-minded, and we learned so much from their different perspectives and ideas,” says Liisi. When taking on a whole new continent, friends and partners are the key!
- Our biggest supporter on spot, in Nairobi, was Caleb Maru, the founder of Tech Safari. He probably didn’t even comprehend what he was getting himself into when he agreed to collaborate with us. It was an amazing journey for both of us and just a start for this beautiful friendship.
- We are extremely grateful for all our partners and sponsors. The event would not have been possible without the kickoff push by Estonian Centre for International Development (ESTDEV) and Admirals.
- A huge thank you goes to Nortal, Trade with Estonia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, Aufort, MOGO Kenya, Bolt, KTA Advocates, TalTech – Tallinn University of Technology, Infobip, Servercore, and Raise.
- Thank you to our community partners: Briter, Strathmore University, House of Genius, Founders Factory, Nairobi Garage, Spurt!, Women Who Build Africa, 1MTN, Reet Aus, The FutureList, Startup Grind Nairobi and so many others who helped us “set camp” in Nairobi and spread the word.
- The 40+ speakers, from Kenya and beyond – thank you for sharing your thoughts and being the inspiration for us all.
- Finally, the team – Dolores, Kaspar, Kai, Kadri, Enriko, Jana, and Britt-Lauren. You know what you did! ❤️ Birgit Nisu and Antero Noor – you managed a great production! And thank you, Kerttu-Liis Klaar for all the help.
The conference in Kenya might be over, for now, but we hope to continue the conversations with all of you. “There’s an ancient African word, Ubuntu. I heard it on the first evening we got to Nairobi. And it means humanity towards others – I am what I am because of who we all are. Africa put things into another perspective and we should all drive for Ubuntu. There’s a lot of individuality in our worlds, especially in tech, but if there’s a chance to make it more human and bring more people together, then we should do so. I know we continue doing so,” shares Liisi. Asanti sava. Aitäh.