I have had the opportunity to watch and participate as the technology ecosystem in Kenya and Africa at large finds its feet and interacted with the driven people invested in different ways to build this out. The personification of this progress is the different hubs, labs and accelerators all working towards finding the secret sauce towards a sustainable innovation pipeline that will ensure the output of entrepreneurial ventures or birth of products and services that have a sizable impact whether in the social front or from a pure profit perspective.
We have seen the blending of different methods and models ranging from co-working spaces with no strings attached accelerators with in-house faculty and mentors to incubators with time sensitive targets which you either meet or ship out. All have varying amounts of success; measured more by organizational objectives rather than utopia.
I would like to pique your interest with a high level blue print of the opportunity that still exists in this space with a take that it could be the most sustainable yet. The labs sprinkled across Africa have done one thing well; to make it possible for people to meet and overtime build symbiotic networks, often times resulting in the creation of a startup or other such collaboration. Great teams are the essence of any successful venture. Marry that with a big enough opportunity and capital and you easily have many parts of the proverbial startup equation as known. The opportunity and capital lie within the innards of slow moving corporate giants, who whilst willing and eager to innovate, are stifled by the bureaucracy that comes with listing at the stock market or corporate bloat acquired over the years.
The next generation accelerator will be one that taps to the available high quality talent that converges at the hubs, figures out the best organization model; fluid teams or corporate structure and finally locks down a business model that sees them scratch the corporate itch sustainably.
The symbiotic nature of the resultant ecosystem will allow the engaged corporate to future proof itself – with the possibility of tax breaks if lobbied, provides the startup teams with an opportunity to focus and cut their teeth working on identified problems – even as they push the boundaries and think beyond the problem statement and finally allows for the accelerator to go commercial and afford for itself capable human resource to make the model work.