Innovation to Impact 2013 Cohort: Winners of 2nd GrowthAfrica/Village Capital programme

Growth Africa team is excited to showcase innovative entrepreneurs in Education, Health and Consumer mobile, renewable energy and agriculture. This team has over the past four months been part of a high impact in-house training program at Growth Hub with particular focus on scaling their business and gaining traction to serve bigger markets thus spread their impact.

On Friday December 6th The GrowthHub organized a Venture Forum to mark the end of this program where, 2 peer selected start-ups received a total investment of $75,000 investment from both Growth Africa and Village Capital.

However the most valuable part of being part of the cohort and participating in the program has been the one-on-one sessions with the Growth Africa team.

During the 2 day workshops spread over the 12 weeks, the entrepreneurs were exposed to a carefully selected group of mentors, experienced entrepreneurs, speakers and facilitators who helped them sharpen their skills in managing and running their start-ups while maintaining innovation and scaling their social impact to reach a critical mass.

Below is an overview the entrepreneurs and startups that took part in the program:


Zana Africa
65% of girls in East Africa could win back up to 6 weeks of school each year if given affordable, dignified means to manage their periods. The Zana Africa Group makes affordable sanitary pads, delivers health education, and informs policy: a holistic, replicable solution, starting in Kenya, to help women thrive.

In February 2013 Zana Africa launched The Nia Network mobile phone application on 21 February 2013 to equip the Government of Kenya with digital school records to coordinate and map distribution of sanitary pads.

Zana Africa also facilitates meetings of distributors of pads and other stakeholders to share challenges and create best practices. In 2012 Zana documented 18 distributors supporting 258,014 girls in 2,501 schools. Collectively they received 2,273,337 packets of sanitary pads and 933,059 underpants. That’s 18,186,696 pads in total!

Founded by Megan White Mukuria – a pop-tech 2011 fellow envisions a world where every woman and girl is able to access opportunities necessary to thrive.

Collabmed Soutions
Founded by Ernest Jura; Collabmed (synonym for Collaborative Medicine) improves patient care for all health institutions and clinics in East Africa by digitizing and integrating healthcare. Ernest; a developer once worked for National AIDS Control Programme and that is  where he realized the information management challenges facing the healthcare industry.

The companies’ flagship product iClinic  helps clinics manage patient appointments simply for patients’ to easily view this from anywhere in the world with the appointment manager feature.



Mank & Tank
As more Kenyans go online, the delivery of education is going digital mainly driven by the Governments’ promise of free laptops in schools in 2014. The benefits of internet-driven productivity gains are not limited to web-based companies. Locally this will create tremendous value for students and teachers to advance their education.

As the government introduces these gadgets there will be massive demand for local educational content. Martin Khamala Head of Operations, Technology and Product Design at Mank and Tank is developing multimedia rich, accredited Kenyan curriculum educational content and aims to distribute his product through virtual classrooms built to bring together learners, teachers & authors.


People in the peri-urban and rural areas of the developing world remain under-served with no affordable access to the basic necessities of life.  In need of everything from healthcare supplies to home wares, rural consumers are punished by both their limited purchasing power and by where they live.  The combination of these two challenges has discouraged traditional consumer goods retailers from selling to this market.  That is what motivated Jonathan Lewis and Tracey Turner to conceptualize Copia which is  a consumer goods catalog order and delivery service leveraging sms and mobile payments systems to increase access of goods to BOP populations. In Kenya led by CEO Crispin Murira; Copia is on a mission to improve the quality of life of people in rural villages transforming them into empowered global consumers.

Crispin has since spearheaded Copia’s one year pilot in Nairobi where sales exceeded their expectations thus providing proof of concept for this revolutionary idea leading to an official launch of Copia in Kenya in September 2013.


SolarKiosk is a network of solar kiosks that not only provides affordable energy but also offers ancillary services such as phone charging and also the selling of basic food necessities such as bread and milk. Notably the company represented in Kenya by Rachna Patel and Monica Oberle has been recently awarded the prestigious 2013 Ecodesign Award by the German Federal Environmental Ministry. This is among other awards, accolades and recognition SolarKiosk has received in recent times.

Continental Renewable Energy Company
The total amount of waste generated is estimated at 1,530 tons/day in Nairobi. The rate of solid waste generation is far greater than the capacity of the City authorities to collect and dispose it. This uncollected waste is evidenced in garbage heaps, and litter everywhere. Plastics and other non biodegradable waste are strewn all over the low-income settlements causing great health and environmental concerns. This need to find a workable solution inspired Dr. Aghan Oscar and Torooti Mwirigi to start Continental Renewable energy; a company that manufactures composite roofing tiles and fencing posts from recycled plastic waste using patented processes.

Their main product is called Corec Resin tile which has quality certifications from South Africa made from recycled waste plastic and sand. The tiles come in different shades ranging from brown, red and green with 405mm x 318mm as the dimension. Other products include a range of different sizes fencing posts called Corec Post and Trusses. Other than providing an alternative material for roofing, this initiative will go a long way in conserving the environment.


Cocon Africa
Cocon Africa is a coconut husk processing facility that produces coir fiber, coconut husk pith, and coconut husk briquettes sold to industries, farmers and households in the Kenyan market.

One of their products COCOPEAT; can be used by rose growers around the world for the large scale production of quality flowers worldwide.

Coir dust in starter containers helps speed up germination of the seedlings and the Cocopeat block can be mixed with required fertilizers and nutrients according to the type of plant to be grown.

Michael Berenju – Founder of Cocon says the company works closely with their customers to ensure that they receive the best quality products by maintaining ready manufactured stocks both in Nairobi and in the Mombasa. This allows customers who are presently importing for themselves to considerably reduce the sourcing time.

Wanda Organic
Wanda Organic founded by Marion Moon;  an Acumen East Africa Fellow helps farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa improve food security and economic growth by contributing to soil fertility using their organic fertilizers. What’s really unique about their fertilizers you ask? This organic fertilizer is the breakthrough result of over 40 years in biotechnological research and is being widely used in South East Asia, Australia and The Middle East. By using Plantmate farmers can embrace more progressive and sustainable agricultural practices that have proven to increase yields, reduce crop cycles, suppress diseases and improve soil health.

Edom Nutritional Solutions
Over the past 8 years, Winstone CEO and Co-founder of Edom has produced content on cost effective micro-nutrient interventions aimed at fixing the loose ends in the food value chains to combat the vicious circle of poverty and malnutrition in the developing world. This company manufactures organically fortified staple flours cost effectively and sells them at affordable prices to the malnourished in East Africa says Winstone Edward Odhiambo – Edom Nutritional Solutions is now on a bold mission to nourish 500 million women and children in Africa using an innovative technology that fortifies staple flours with micronutrients at the local mill level.

Watch what inspired Winstone to fight malnutrition in Kenya here.


Ndovu Card
Are you fed up of limitations of money transfer? Think about the fact that you need to walk into an Mpesa shop with float to deposit money then send it to someone or withdraw it from another agent when you need to use the money. Have you lost money through a transaction to a wrong number or a customer who paid you then reversed the transaction?  Have you ever wanted to send money to a group e.g. family members during Xmas or all the workers in your farm instantly but you had to send to each person at a time and incur heavy charges for these bulk payments? Fred Alunala, Eric Otieno and Fred Akama of Ndovu Card are working on a magical solution to mass disbursement of payments that is going to revolutionalize mobile money payment solutions by providing a mobile bulk payment solution.

Calling this solution different or innovative or cool is an understament; this is a GAME CHANGER.

Chama Pesa
Do you belong to a Chama where you contribute an agreed amount periodically to a savings kitty where members can borrow or funds can be invested to bring returns to you? Well if you still do not belong to one here’s what could happen; there are cases of mismanagement of funds, theft; where signatories to your Chama account steal the savings. I am aware people pay fines when they arrive late or miss these Chama meetings and off-course since Chamas are started by friends or colleagues the familiarity breeds a lot of governance issues which lead to misappropriation of funds and finally collapse of what was once a very noble initiative to empower its members.

Based on the challenges the social savings concept in East Africa [Chamas] face Ian Griggs and Ken Griffith of Dinero limited conceptualized ChamaPesa, the software platform that provides access to savings instruments on the phone to enable Chama members safely accumulate savings in a variety of assets with good governance. ChamaPesa reduces the support costs of managing savings by helping Chamas leverage on their economies of scale through pooling regular savings of their members.

I like the transparency and peace of mind this product brings to a Chama.

Zege Technologies
Kenya is leading in adoption and use of mobile money globally and as this mode of payment takes root in the nation and beyond there are challenges the consumers, providers of the service and merchants accepting mobile payments are facing.

Mobile payments account for a huge % of revenue today so there’s need for an in-house solution that can integrate these payments into existing financial and accounting systems to avoid revenue leakages and accounting malpractices.

Secondly if a merchant accepts payments from more than one provider that is bound to create more confusion in handling revenue accepted through mobile money. To boost business efficiency and increase customer satisfaction you need Mpayer; a solution by  Zege Technologies founded by Stella Njoki and Kariuki Gathitu to provide merchants with efficient payment channels through eBilling and SMS receipting for online and offline purchases.

Your customers will love Mpayer due to the direct payment notifications and the merchants have near real time access to statements of transactions bringing efficiency in mobile money and cash payments. Signing up for Mpayer is very straightforward….it’s a BREEZE.

Mapsoft Technologies
The transport industry in Kenya is awash with new solutions targeted at different stakeholders in this multi-billion sector that employs a bulk of youths in the informal sector.

The transport industry faces huge challenges key among them revenue leakage to Matatu/Bus crew, Corrupt cops, fatal accidents, vehicle theft among other pertinent issues that need to be addressed to restore sanity on the roads.

Patroba Mariga of MapSoft Technologies Limited is the brains behind Hand held Mobile Computing Solution manufactured in India to provide easy collection of fares and helps in vehicle tracking among other integrated solutions.

This product is uniquely different from the other stand alone tracking, fleet management services and payment solutions out there because it integrates a whole host of services in one gadget.

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