We all successfully made it through our first weeks of work, and I think I can speak for everyone when I say that it feels great to start settling in – with our fellowships and with our new lives as expats! The crew here in Nairobi celebrated by hanging out with some baby elephants and giraffes on Sunday at the Elephant Orphanage and Giraffe Center in Karen, a suburb of Nairobi just south west of the city center. They were adorable!
By way of introduction, I am working for a company called The Growth Hub. It is an impact incubator and accelerator that supports early stage entrepreneurs and start-ups in the social enterprise space in Africa. The Growth Hub is backed by its consulting branch, Growth Africa, which has been working to facilitate economic growth and expansion in East Africa for over ten years. My role at the Growth Hub is multi-fold: first, I am helping the Hub recruit entrepreneurs for its upcoming accelerator program, which is beginning this August. This involves heavy outreach to entrepreneurs, investors / VC funds, and other networks to ensure there is a strong applicant pool and to secure investor support (financial and non). Second, because the Growth Hub is only running its 2nd accelerator program and is in itself a start-up, I am helping define the Hub’s operations and institutionalizing best practices around planning and running a successful program. Third, there are a number of entrepreneurs who share the Hub’s workspace, and although each start-up is different, in a nutshell I will be working with these entrepreneurs to help them scale or refine their business models.
This week will be busy with investor meetings, and I started off the week by going to a Climate Innovation Conference at Strathmore University’s Business School to recruit entrepreneurs in the energy / environmental sustainability sectors. Already I am getting a holistic view on what the start-up scene is like here in Nairobi, and there is a ton happening – it’s hard to keep up! The social enterprise space is thriving – investors are constantly looking for the next new business opportunity that will also positively change the world. In talking to some of the entrepreneurs who work at the Hub, I’ve even heard that it can be difficult for start-ups who are purely for-profit to find funding, as there are more investors here who are interested in social enterprises. The positive energy is contagious! As opposed to many places around the world where traditionally, people feel that it is difficult to “do well by doing good,” here it feels like the exact opposite. People really believe their ideas can solve social problems AND make money – the best of both worlds, right? Now all they need is an incubator to help them do just that… 🙂
Cheers for now!