Activating the East African Startup Ecosystem through Innovative Projects
We have just completed our first DEEPSEA Startup Ecosystem Accelerator Program in East Africa sponsored by Swisscontact. 22 ecosystem builders from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Somalia as well as Belgium, France, Sweden, the UK, and the United States came together to get an overview of the startup ecosystem in East Africa, identify challenges and opportunities, as well as develop strategic interventions for ecosystem activation.
Our DEEPSEA Startup Ecosystem Accelerator is a unique conference and accelerator program for innovation managers and ecosystem builders. With 8 editions since 2018, we helped create a community of more than 160 alumni.
DEEPSEA East Africa 2020 featured hands-on workshops and keynote speakers with experiences in ecosystem thinking, measuring, and branding, as well as equipping participants with good practices to grow more resilient startup ecosystems.
During the 4-week project phase, participants have been forming cross-border teams and, with the assistance of mentors, developed innovative projects that have been presented at the Pitching Day on 12 November 2020:
Boosting Social Entrepreneurship in Uganda
Team members: Henry Wanume (StartHub Africa, Uganda), Marijke Deleu (Response Innovation Lab, Belgium/Uganda), Victor Kimanthi (Digital Opportunity Trust – DOT, Kenya), Mildred Wengonzi B (Mercycorps, Uganda), Charlene Cabot (Response Innovation Lab, France/Uganda)
This project provides an in-depth analysis of the Ugandan ecosystem in place for social innovation, social entrepreneurship, and social enterprises. It proposes to encourage entrepreneurship support organizations (ESOs) to develop content for social entrepreneurship to match funding and support opportunities between investors, donors, ESOs, and social entrepreneurs.
Developing Women’s Leadership Capacity through Mentorship and Up-skilling in Business and Technical Skills to Enhance Their Participation in the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
Team members: Cecile Mbashimishe (Digital Opportunity Trust – DOT, Rwanda), Esther Gathigi (Digital Opportunity Trust – DOT, Kenya), Daniel Bukenya (Goldstone Enterprise Consulting and Training, Uganda), Max Vieille (Response Innovation Lab, USA), Lilian Mogoah (Invest in Africa)
The initiative aims to develop women’s leadership capacities to enhance their participation in the entrepreneurial ecosystem through a region-wide program that offers a multifaceted solution towards the minimal representation of women in the ecosystems through layered mentorship & coaching programs, networking options, advocacy for women in entrepreneurship, knowledge sharing, and business programs.
Building Entrepreneurs’ Digital Capacities in East Africa
Team members: Yeetah Kamikazi Sharon (kLab, Rwanda), Jean Claude Ndayambaje (Digital Opportunity Trust – DOT, Rwanda), Petronila Ogola (Digital Opportunity Trust -DOT, Kenya), Aneth Batamuliza (GIZ, Rwanda), Keneth Twesigye (TechBuzz Hub, Uganda)
The project aims to support entrepreneurs in East Africa with online and onsite training, advisory, and coaching on building digital and business skills, with a focus on regional & international business generation and investment promotion.
Bridging the Gap Between Investors and Entrepreneurs in East Africa
Team members: Julius Mujuni (ENVenture, Uganda), Abdi Adan Billow (Response Innovation Lab, Somalia), Violette Uwamutara (Digital Opportunity Trust – DOT, Rwanda), Laura Bierer (PHB Development, Uganda)
The initiative seeks to bridge the acute distance between investors and entrepreneurs in East Africa though finding common denominators where investors reap optimal returns and entrepreneurial ventures bloom.
On a final note, although we relish our in-person events, the virtual event did bring some new perks. Given the current state of the world, we were very happy to see our DEEPSEA Alumni joining from all over the world to connect with their peers in East Africa. We are thankful to everyone who participated and applaud the current cohort for their continuous growth and success. We will keep cheering for all of them as they continue to thrive in East Africa and around the globe.