Nailab partnered Close the Gap and 1%Club Netherlands in May to launch the Leap2 programme, geared towards supporting startups in raising seed money to grow their businesses.
After 42 applications were received, 10 startups in the health, agriculture, education, transport and energy sectors were selected to be the first recipients of the fundraising support provided through the programme.
The startups initiated their crowdfunding campaigns on June 6, and raised a combined total of KES3 million (US$29,000), with four of the participants receiving a matching fund of an estimated KES500,000 (US$4,800) each from Close the Gap.
The startups taking part in the programme were rural financial services platform Afya Plan, vehicle tracking device Btrack Global, digital vaccination platform Chanjo Plus, bulk SMS for deaf people service Deafine Connect, sanitary towel access social enterprise Esvendo Social Inclusion Project, scholarship finding platform Ebursary, agricultural market access app Emeden Kenya Farmers Market Link, pregnancy information platform Pregmum, mobile education service Msoma, and solar company Pawame.
“We have seen several good ideas die at the proof of concept stage and even when they survive that, the growth from 100 customers to more than 1,000 is affected by the lack of seed capital. We always advocate at the early stage of building that a startup focuses on creating some traction to help them fundraise but we also realise the need for funding pre-product and pre-revenue,” said Nailab founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Sam Gichuru.
Olivier Vanden, founder and director of Close the Gap, said his organisation would continue to work with the 10 startups to help them grow and eventually form the pipeline for a fund.
“It’s through our interaction and understanding of the Kenyan market, and Nailab’s operations in support of the startup community locally, that we as Close the Gap have gone ahead to set up an impact-first investment fund that will support scale up businesses in technology for development for the missing middle,” he said.