Trade mission: Deep dive in vibrant Kenyan startup scene

Irmgard Jansen
By on July 13, 2015

During the second week of June eleven social impact entrepreneurs from The Netherlands were introduced to entrepreneurs, startups and investors in the vibrant Kenyan market. This Social Impact Trade Mission was organized by Crosswise Works and Professional Rebel, in close cooperation with the Inclusive Business Accelerator (IB Accelerator) and was supported by NABC and the Netherlands embassy in Nairobi.

NABC visited Nairobi with a group of larger enterprises and the cooperation provided us with the opportunity to engage in a number of meetings that were of mutual interest. Moreover, the occasional cross-overs between the two trade mission resulted in cross-fertilization. Some of the NABC delegates were highly interested in innovative social impact startups and for our delegates the work of larger businesses in Africa provided eye openers.

Sustainable business
The Social Impact Trade Mission had a clear focus on sustainable business and collaborative impact and will be the first in a series of trade missions to several frontier markets with a promising business and investment environment.

The ambition was to help kick start Dutch impact-driven enterprises focusing on the Kenyan market by connecting them to a Kenyan network of related businesses and organizations. The delegates had the opportunity to take a deep dive into the Kenyan ecosystem of social entrepreneurs and impact investors. More importantly, we aimed to build on sustainable relationships and create collaborative impact together with the Kenyan community before, during and after the trade mission, for example through the IB Accelerator platform and local hubs.

Mission Delegates
There were 10 social enterprises participating in the Social Impact Trade Mission:

  • Africa Wood Grow
  • Dutch Green Planet
  • ICS Africa
  • ProPortion / Vijana Reloaded
  • Pure Vital Food
  • RafikiSoft
  • Susteq
  • Water Forever
  • TTC
  • XS2Justice Network

Co-working spaces and incubators
In Kenya, a growing number of co-working spaces and incubators with professional mentors are being established. Investor networks are providing access to funding and accelerator programs. This start-up scene has an international orientation and is budding with foreign enterprises to create synergies.

The Dutch delegates of the social impact trade mission were connected to this Kenyan market and potential partnerships were initiated, for example between our delegates and Sanergy, Lake Turkana Wind Power, M-Kopa, Nailab, the Chandaria Business Innovation and Incubation Centre and a number of other businesses as well as NGO’s.


M-Kopa pay-as-you-go solar system.

Great couple
We believe that these partnerships will create opportunities both for the Dutch delegates and for Kenyan sustainable enterprises. Moreover, the connections that have been made with various entrepreneurs, startups, incubators, business networks, investors and individuals will be useful for current and future IB Accelerator members.

The deep dive into the Kenyan business community has been extremely valuable. In the process of elaborating partnerships there will still be numerous issues to solve, ranging from contextualization of products and machines to addressing challenges concerning marketing and distribution. Moreover, most innovative business initiatives will require investments. This is where the IB Accelerator platform and local hubs can provide services: Matchmaking between entrepreneurs, investors and mentors and delivery of business development services through the local IB Accelerator hubs.

Face-to-face matchmaking through a Social Impact Trade Mission and IB Accelerator services represent a great couple.

Also read this report of the Social Impact Trade Mission by Crosswise Works.