Housing sector startups secure Sh25m funding

LEFT: Darshan Chandari, Group CEO of Chandaria Industries interacting with Jonas Tesfu, CEO of Pangea Accelerator during the ShelterTech Kenya Demo Day. (Standard)

Five local business start-ups have each secured Sh5 million funding following successful pitching to local and international investors.

The five, out of the 15 that pitched under the ShelterTech Kenya Accelerator Program, proved that they were investor ready and out to make a difference in the affordable housing segment.

The judges, drawn from the real estate, financial and technology sectors settled on Gjenge — a social enterprise recycling waste plastic into artistic construction products, ManPro — a construction management system and The Vlage, which provides co-living spaces through their digital platform.

Also picked were AHomes, a startup that provides artisans with labour opportunities and certification, and MycoTile, which provides alternative building material made from mushroom.

Depending on their capacity to absorb and after further due diligence, three of those businesses will share a further Sh15 million courtesy of Habitat for Humanity.

“These start-ups have put in a lot of work in their business ideas and we would have wished to match all of them with investors. However, we are compelled to go with the most investor ready outfits,” said Darshan Chandaria, Chandaria Group CEO, who was a judge at the accelerator Demo Day.

Two other scale-ups were also picked for possible funding. They are; Mali Kodi - a cloud based rental properties management system and Corec (Continental Renewable Energy Co. Limited), which produces, among other things, resin bonded roofing tiles, man hole covers and plastic lumber planks.

The 15 that pitched were shortlisted from tens of others who applied for the programme.

Pangea Accelerator Team Lead Anne Lawi said the programme was born out of the need to have affordable housing while ensuring key challenges such as high cost of construction due to high import duties, poor import logistics and an unfavourable tax regime are dealt with.

“The purpose of this event is to encourage young and upcoming businesses that they can still be market validated through access to investment opportunities,” said Ms Lawi.

Jane Otima, the Associate Director for Market Systems at Habitat for Humanity International, said the Demo Day shows it is possible to not only get innovative businesses that will aid in the achievement of the housing agenda but also an amazing way to nurture entrepreneurs.

“The housing conversation is a complex one, but very achievable. To achieve it, we will need to pool in people from all sectors and to ensure that we encourage entrepreneurs like those who have pitched today to ensure they are part of this conversation,” she said.