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Startup Bill to recognise local innovations, SMEs

By Hillary Mageka
Wednesday, October 7th, 2020
Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja whose Startup Bill seeks to provide a framework to encourage growth and innovations in the business. Photo/PD/JOHN OCHIENG
In summary
    • .Is designed to address challenges faced by start-ups in the country that hinder their growth
    • .Construction of Konza Techno City, “Silicon Savannah” is expected to further positively impact the country’s tech startup ecosystem.

Startups will soon be given recognition and allocated some incentives in the annual budget if a proposed bill before Senate is debated, passed and assented to.

The Startup Bill, 2020 is designed to address challenges faced by start-ups in the country that hinder their growth.

It is sponsored by Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja and seeks to provide a framework to encourage growth, sustainable technological development and new entrepreneurship employment.

In addition to creating a more favourable environment for innovation so as to attract Kenyan talents and capital, the bill is designed to sustain growth through emerging technological support.

In Kenya, startups are yet to be recognised in law even though their innovations have greatly contributed to the country’s economic development by acting as a support infrastructure to other economic sectors.

 “The Bill, therefore, seeks to provide a legislative framework that fosters a culture of innovative thinking and entrepreneurship for the registration of startups,” the bill reads in part.

“Provide linkage of such startups with financial institutions, the private sector research institutions and such other institutions at the national and county level of government,” adds the bill on second reading.

The bill will facilitate investment in and the provision of fiscal and non-fiscal support to startups in Kenya that promotes an enabling environment for the establishment, development, the conduct of business, and regulation of startups.

The Kenyan startup ecosystem has experienced rapid growth over the last decade.

Construction of Konza Techno City, “Silicon Savannah” is expected to further positively impact the country’s tech startup ecosystem.

In an interview with People Daily on Tuesday, Sakaja noted that start-ups are generally associated with young innovative tech companies or new businesses that leverage on technology to solve a problem or pain point of a population segment.

According to him, startups are increasingly playing a critical role in the world’s socio-economic development through the development of innovation and aiding optimization of current economic sectors

“Startups focus on solving problems through new technology and cutting edge innovation,” the senator said.

“Further due to their unique rapid growth model over a short period of time, startups have a high capacity of quality job creation,” he added.

For instance, Twiga Foods, Crucible Logistics and Sendy serve as some of the success stories that support over 40,000 people.

Examples of startups that have fundraised successfully in Kenya include Cellulant that has developed a digital payment platform that offers flexible payment options for consumers and businesses, and works with financial institutions, governments, and mobile network operators to increase transparency and expand their reach in Africa.

In addition, Twiga Foods that sources quality produce from thousands of farmers in the country, providing them with a guaranteed market, and through their mobile-based supply platform, vendors can order fresh and high-quality groceries and vegetables and Twiga reliably deliver to their shops at below market prices.

M-Kopa that provides “pay-as-you-go” energy services for offgrid customers across emerging markets.

Through its proprietary, patented technology platform that combines embedded GSM + mobile payments, the company had already connected 600,000 homes across Africa, providing 75 million hours of kerosene-free lighting each month with its battery-powered systems that come with lights, phone-charging, and a solar-powered radio.