When Nailab (Nairobi Incubation Lab) opened its doors seven years ago in Kenya, it wanted to be the Y Combinator for Kenya, Nailab CEO Sam Gichuru told me. In order to accomplish that goal, Gichuru realized Nailab would need a lot of money, which it did not have at the time. That’s why it initially began as a co-working space.
“Along the way we realized that the startups we got into the space that actually managed to raise between 10 to $20,000, who are growing, we realized we needed to put together a seed fund,” Gichuru said.
The fund, which invests $25,000 in East African startups, looks for Kenya-based startups with potential to be highly scalable and able to make a social and/or economic impact.
“We do not find startups that are like what you’d find in other parts of the world,” Gichuru said. “That is simply because Africa still has a lot more problems to solve that are quite basic.”