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Why tech super app is a good opportunity for local innovators

COMMENTARY
By Ben Mokamba | June 7th 2019

Kenya is beaming with an unmatched entrepreneurial spirit. A spirit that has given rise to the entrepreneurial culture that is an inseparable quality of every Kenyan; the ability to innovate and improvise.

The same entrepreneurial spirit is the backbone of our economy. True to this, a recent National Economic Survey by the Central Bank of Kenya indicates that SMEs constitute 98 per cent of all businesses in Kenya. What’s more, over 30 per cent of the jobs created annually are in this sector. The contribution to the economy lies at 3 per cent of the GDP.

The tech sector, as I have mentioned before in this space, has come to claim a significant portion of this entrepreneurial culture. The ingenuity that has given rise to technological innovations that have put our nation on the map and amazed the entire world cannot be overstated.

Moreover, since the relevance of technology in the modern world is growing exponentially, and our reliance on innovations that promise an easier life is increasing at an equal rate, it would be wise for anyone with keen interest in the direction and trajectory of modern economies to set their eyes on this sector, and to examine how it has come to claim its place in the SME world.

This, compounded by the fact that we expect many technological innovations to arise among the youth; the able majority in our economy, has led me to believe that the sector is poised for immense growth in the coming years. 

 Digital entrepreneurship

On the other side of the coin, however, is the uncomfortable reality that many of the challenges currently facing SMEs threaten to impede the tech sector’s growth. One of these challenges is the limited access to markets. In the context of this sector, market access means that the tech innovator has access to prospective users and clients for his innovation, whether locally or internationally. 

Interestingly, there exists a Tech Innovators Sacco that has sought to provide a framework within which young tech innovators can access a wide range of products and services to propel them to the next level. The Tech Innovators Sacco went live last year with the primary goal of encouraging a co-operative movement in the support of tech innovators and digital entrepreneurship. True to their intention, they have now unveiled a Super Application that will be used by their members, the local tech community and enthusiasts to deliver digital content and services to the market.

A Super Application is a single application through which you can access multiple solutions, services and content. Given that the ultimate decision maker as to whether an innovation is indeed useful is the market itself, such an Application will avail the opportunity to tech innovators to test their ideas and products in the market and determine their viability. Any individual with a tech idea therefore needs access to the aforementioned market.

Marketing system

Young tech entrepreneurs will be able to develop a relationship with the market, and by consolidating content and innovative ideas on a single platform, it will be easier for the market to access local innovative solutions, and also for the the innovator to reach the local market.

The platform has been rightfully dubbed ‘think’ (tech innovators network). Its current design reveals a messaging feature and social media channels module. As the platform develops, and in line with the needs of innovators, it will be imperative to make improvements and develop more modules for later releases of the Application. 

Just like the Kenya Cooperative Creameries, which has for a long time provided a viable marketing system to dairy farmers for their milk and dairy products, the platform th.i.nk also has the opportunity for growing into a reputable household name that will act as a vehicle to market for SMEs in the tech sector.

As the world increasingly turns towards the tech sector for solutions to many problems that humanity is grappling with; from the effects of climate change, to the growing demands in cyber-security, and even to the dynamic needs of the banking and finance sector, perhaps the founders of the platform can begin looking even beyond our borders, hence linking innovators to markets beyond our geographical reality.

As Kenya continues to rank high in the Global Innovation Index, we need more out of the box solutions in order to turn this ranking into pragmatic long term fixes for the many challenges our society is facing. Over time, we should translate these long term fixes to the rest of the world like a fire, and subsequently rank even higher on the aforementioned index.

Mr Mokamba comments on social issues.

 

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