Kenyans are creative, enterprising people. We innovate our way around the little steeples that come our way. (See that Rio reference?) Some of the world’s best tech has been born here out of the need to solve little qualms. Our mental fingers are now pointing at MPesa and Ushahidi, two of the well-known Kenyan products & services. But as any innovator will tell you, it isn’t easy. Thinkers (innovators) and funders (entrepreneurs) don’t always get along together like they should. Entrepreneurs want hard tangible numbers and charts with good smile-like curves. Innovators see problems that itch to their souls to be solved. These cogs don’t always align. Enter stage left: Kickstarter. Yes, there are notable Kenyan Projects on Kickstarter
You have better chances impressing someone (or some people) out of a million ‘backers’, right? Yes. You are more likely to garner interest in a community of people actually (and monetarily) interested in seeing innovative ideas & products flourish beyond labs and Github beta streams than in a Shark Tank, or a Lion’s Den. That is what Kickstarter is. A community of people in support of tech, a community whose members put their money where their mouths are, per se. An innovator could post of their idea, a presentation with a target funding amount along with a bit of evidence to show how committed they are in order to woo backers (i.e. people who will fund your project) for a time period. Backers, on the other hand jump in for any number of reasons, including perks like early access, steep discounts (or free products/services) and involvement in the project’s design, development or manufacture.
If successful (i.e. the funding reaches/gets past the 100% target amount), Kickstarter takes its cut (it is a business after all) and the innovator can start delivering on the said promised innovation.
This little gem is called crowdfunding
Kickstarter is not alone. It is the most popular but there is also Indiegogo, RocketHub, GoFundMe, Razoo and CrowdRise among others.
Of course this little blessing hasn’t escaped the attention of Kenyans who are always toe in toe with tech. A few have posted their ideas/products on Kickstarter. A quick search on the site reveals that there are at least 85 projects posted from Kenya and here, we are going to highlight some of the notable Kenyan projects on Kickstarter.
You have probably heard of this one. It has received a fair chunk of media coverage, the latest being CNN. Here is their description:
Kenya defines running excellence. Successive generations of athletes have come to understand and have perfected the art of running. Working together with them, we have created the ultimate running shoe.
This project has received more than their target fundraise amount, hitting $128,000 (about Ksh. 12,992,512). The shoe can be ordered right now on the Kickstarter page.
This project tops the list in the search of Kenyan projects. This too has surpassed its funding goal of $9,000 to raise $9,133 with 124 backers with 4 hours to go (as at time of writing). Here is its description:
At its core, AVoice4Peace is about the music that we create.
This short documentary will give voice to the stories and songs of several musicians participating in the first-ever AVoice4Peace Concert held in Nairobi, Kenya on September 21, 2016.
Through the eyes of our characters, we’ll learn about the importance of international and inter-cultural musical collaboration, as well as the powerful effect that music has on listeners (and performers) when used as a catalyst for peace.
This is a queer one. Perhaps this makes sense to you. Here is the description:
We are filming unsung camel cheese from Mongolia to Mauritania Nutrition, Taste, Tradition – what is the future? We say “Respect the Camel”
I didn’t get this one. It is really old (2011) but come on, how would I not include ‘What Took You So Long to find Camel Cheese?’ in this list? The title literally begs for it. 101 backers pledged $8,312 to help bring this project to life.
Perhaps this is the most well-known Kenyan project funded on Kickstarter, being that Ushahidi was a hit novelty. It also is my favourite in the list. Here goes:
[…]The idea behind BRCK is that all kinds of jobs require steady connectivity, even when infrastructure is spotty due to wireless connections that come and go, intermittent power, or devices that can’t share connections. Seeing this, we set out to redesign connectivity for the world we live in – Africa. […]
1,078 backers pledged $172,107 to help bring this project to life, well into the target. BRCK is now commercially available on brck.com.
Not all projects are successful though. In fact, most projects flop for any number of reasons. Here’s one that though it raised more than 100% of its target, is dead. A bit sad, isn’t it:
This project is dead, as the Kickstarter page says:
The whole idea was that we were going to both make great products and support Kenyan artisans.
Each belt is….
1) Handmade by local artisans in Kenya
2) Uses the highest quality local Kenyan leather
3) Each mold is destroyed after the belt is made, making each belt one-of-a-kind.
In its heyday, it raised $18,655 over its $16,836 goal.
These are just some of the many Kenyan projects available on Kickstarter. Go out. Pledge your support to one or two. If you are an innovator dealing with the all-too-common funding issue, try out crowdfunding. Cheers and good luck to all thinkers and funders out there.