“It’s inspiring to see how engineers here are using mobile money to build businesses and help their community,” Zuckerberg said after visiting Nairobi’s iHub, the most famous of Africa’s innovation hubs.
He also popped into the office of BRCK, a remarkable internet connectivity device that has since morphed into a clever educationsystem for the developing world. Both have been co-founded byErik Hersman – who is also the co-founder of Ushahidi, the real-time reporting tool created during the violence following Kenya’s disputed 2008 elections and is considered – along with M-Pesa – as one of Kenya’s greatest tech success stories.
“Just landed in Nairobi! I’m here to meet with entrepreneurs and developers, and to learn about mobile money – where Kenya is the world leader,” Zuckerberg told his 78-million followers on Facebook. Kenya has 5.3-million Facebook users, many of whom access the social network via mobile.
“I’m starting at a place called iHub, where entrepreneurs can build and prototype their ideas. Two of the engineers I met – Fausto [Marcigot] and Mark – designed a system to help people use mobile payments to buy small amounts of cooking gas, which is a lot safer and better for the environment than charcoal or kerosene.
It’s inspiring to see how engineers here are using mobile money to build businesses and help their community.” The system is called PayGo Energy.
Hersman told me: “He was very keen about the real-world problems being solved at Gearbox”. An extension of iHub, Gearbox is a maker space with 3D printers and other manufacturing facilities in Nairobi. “Think of it as doing for hardware what iHub did for software in Kenya, which is really concentrating the activity around hardware manufacturing. It is an onramp for manufacturing in Kenya.| Last year there were eight startups working in the Gearbox space, now there are 24.
Of course they are doing it for commercial reasons, but that’s okay, we need a commercially viable internet everywhere. He does really care about that though, that’s what came across to me.”Follow @newslexpoint
I think Mark found Kenya different from Nigeria!
Yesterday in Nigeria, where he praised African entrepreneurs, Zuckerberg said: “The thing that is striking is the entrepreneurial energy. I think when you’re trying to build something, what matters the most is who wants it the most. This is where the future is going to be built,” Zuckerberg said
It echoes similar compliments made by US President Barack Obama, who praised Kenya’s tech entrepreneurs during a trip last July: “This continent needs to be a future hub of global growth, not just African growth”.
At the iHub, Zuckerberg met several other start-up entrepreneurs, including:
- Edna Kwinga and Marie Amuti fromTwiga Foods, a mobile based-business-to-business supplier of fresh fruits and vegetables;
- Eric Thimba and Porgie Gachui, the co-founders of Mookh, a digital payments start-up; and
- Wandia Gichuru and Makena Mutwiri from Vivo Active Wear, an online women’s clothes store which does most of its business on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp for which payment is made with mobile money.
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