ShelterTech Accelerator Program facilitates startup-corporate collaborations in Kenya.

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Wednesday, February 21st was a key event date in the ShelterTech Accelerator Program. The event dubbed “Meet The Corporates” saw early stage businesses and scale-ups in the cohort interacting with corporates and industry players, drawing from their wealth of experience and expertise. Organisations in attendance included representatives from British High Commission, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Bamburi Cement (Lafarge), Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) among other key players.

Candid Responses from Panelists and Guests

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Mr. Sandeep Khapre, Regional CEO of BDO East Africa and a panelist at Meet the Corporates 2019

Mr. Khapre shared his thoughts on the approaches corporates use when dealing with startups. He observed during the networking session that startups and scale-ups had started interacting with corporates and foresaw linkages happening. He also nodded his approval on how corporates were breaking down their processes to startups and scale-ups which would enhance learning.

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Mr. Jonas Tesfu, CEO of Pangea Accelerator — Moderator for Meet The Corporates 2019

Mr. Tesfu was not only the moderator but also an expert on the startup ecosystem. He provided insightful tips and tricks startups need to use when seeking corporate collaborations. He added that, startups need to be aware that corporates do not have structures and policies around these collaborations, therefore, they need to be clever by being relevant through innovation and using that as their lead-in.

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Peninah Mutonga, Project Lead at OrkidStudio — a panelist representing startups at Meet the Corporates 2019

Representing startups and scale-ups from the ShelterTech accelerator program cohort, Peninah offered her perspective and experience on corporate collaborations. She noted that startup needs go beyond funding. Startups usually work with limited resources including how much data they have access to, therefore, a lot is centered on capacity building through seeking mentors, access to data or research labs and industrial expertise.

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Jane Otima, the Associate Director Market Systems & Entrepreneurship at Habitat for Humanity International’s Terwilliger Centre for Innovation in Shelter

As a panelist, she shared on how we can bring together different stakeholders through effective communication of these technologies. Her main takeaway from the event was the realization that, the ShelterTech accelerator scale-ups and startups and industry players are all working towards a similar goal — bringing lasting solutions to the market that will solve challenges of affordable housing and give agency to low-income earners.

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Tim Kipchumba, Co-Founder and CFO of QuestWorks

As part of the panel, Tim Kipchumba opined that people want to solve a problem and the first step in solving a problem is identifying the need. He added that, if a start-up or scale-up can find the solution to the need, corporations can easily partner and collaborate. He championed for deeper mentor programs as a key measure for scaling up the businesses.

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Everlyne Mukiri, Key Accounts Manager at Glaxo Smith Kline- Guest at Meet The Corporates 2019

“When approaching corporates, the best practice is to start with the person of contact perhaps rather than decision makers. They should not go with the attitude of ‘how can you help me” but rather, “how can I help you?” It is not revenue driven but is more of service and that brings growth eventually bringing in revenue.”

David Mulwa, Key Accounts Manager at Bamburi Cement Ltd- Guest at Meet the Corporates 2019

“As industry players and experts, I realized there are a lot of technologies we do not know about. I am also curious who the startups and scale-ups are talking to because they have great ideas but they are not talking to us. There is a lot of innovation that we can learn and borrow from them. We also have a solid brand that scale-ups and startups can leverage from, for example, they could set up space during the Bamburi Cement Exhibition and ride on our brand to expand their innovation and link with industry experts. It is a win-win situation.”

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