Kenyan start-ups among winners of Google’s Accelerator Program

Two Kenyan start-ups are among eight young businesses in the world who are winners of Google’s Accelerator program on Sustainable Development Goals. The other six winners are from France, Germany, Netherlands, Israel, Pakistan, and Nigeria. Three of the winners are female owned start-ups.

According to Google’s head Communications in Africa, Dorothy Ooko, the Start-ups Accelerator Program on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aims to empower technology start-ups to build and scale viable social impact companies to solve the world’s biggest problems and help the world achieve the SDGs.

“The start-ups accepted into the program will receive free support from Google around technology improvement, product improvement, design, growth and leadership training. They will also be paired with a Google Start-up Success Manager to work with them to improve their businesses,” she said.

Following the call for entries, the program received applications from close to 1,200 start-ups from Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

Solar Freeze, one of the Kenyan winners, is pioneering mobile cold storage units powered by renewable energy for rural smallholder farmers. This is to help reduce the huge challenge of post-harvest loss in much of the developing world.

Its focus is on the number one SDG goal- which targets to have less than 3 percent of the world living in extreme poverty by ending poverty in all its forms everywhere; The second SDG goal - which seeks to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture; and the third SDG goal- which seeks to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

The second Kenyan winner, Flare is a software infrastructure and operational support for emergency response teams. It has built a consumer-facing application that allows patients to see nearby emergency/ambulance options and request help quickly. Flare currently operates the largest network of ambulances throughout Kenya and provides hundreds of life-saving emergency responses each month.

Its focus is on the third SDG goal- which seeks to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. The software gurus also focus on the ninth SDG goal- which seeks to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation; and the tenth SDG goal - whose target is to reduce inequality within and among countries.

Other benefits include being linked with carefully chosen mentors, opportunities to present their ideas at various platforms organised by Google, as well as membership to a collaborative, supportive community with relevant experts.

The program is designed to address the unique challenges founders face when building a social impact company - product and engineering expertise; business development; and, access to funding.