Every start of the year we seek to highlight some of the trailblazing startups making disruption across Kenya. These forward-thinking startups are changing our everyday way of life in regards to finances, education, insurance and even recruitment.
This list looks at startups that are still in the seed stage, just emerged out of stealth or extending their wings across the continent. These are also startups that have participated in some sort of funding rounding within 2018.
Here are the 11 innovative Kenyan startups to watch in 2019:
Bluewave Insurance – Providing affordable insurance to masses
Bluewave is an insurtech startup that applies research, innovation, and technology to low-cost innovative insurance products to the masses from as little as USD 0.4 weekly.
Founded by Adelaide Adhiambo in 2017, Bluewave seeks to make it easy and affordable for any Kenyans to get insurance cover people and things.
In 2018, they won the Seedstars Nairobi edition and will compete at this year’s Seedstars Summit in Switzerland for a chance to secure up to US$1 million in equity investment.
Bwala Africa – Last mile logistics marketplace for Africa
Bwala Africa a last-mile logistics marketplace that provides transportation, logistics, service and parts sales, repairs & maintenance and Insurance services with the aim of solving tedious fleet management procedures often witnessed by corporate firms, SMEs and individuals.
With a database of pick-ups, minibuses, trucks, tours and delivery vans, Bwala Africa allow its users to hire cars, trucks and delivery vans and source for repairs, service and maintenance, and link them up to trusted mechanics and genuine spare part dealers online.
To date, the company has made more than 6,000 deliveries in Nairobi with plans to expand to across Kenya and East Africa.
Founded by Kennedy Nyabwala in 2017, the startup secured US$230,000 debt financing from South African-based bank CFC Stanbic to meet the rising demand for last mile fleet connectivity.
Food 4 Education – Lunches that change lives
Food4Education is a social enterprise that provides lunch on every school day, mentorship and tuition support aimed at improving their health, school performance and increase their chances of getting into good high schools in a merit-based high school entrance system.
Founded in 2012 by Wawira Njiru, the social enterprise startup provides 2000 meals per day across 4 schools around Ruiru, a small town in the Central Part of Kenya.
In 2015, the startup secured US$ 300,000 funding from Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation to expand their reach over the next 3 years. This was followed up by Wawira Njiru being awarded the 2018 Global Citizen Prize for Youth Leadership thereafter receiving US$250,000 from the Global Citizen in partnership with Cisco.
Food 4 Education plans to serve 100,000 meals per day over the next 3 years.
Talklift (Biashara Bot) – Data-driven social media marketing tool for business
Founded in 2017 by Moses Kibet and Felix Cheruiyot, Talklift, formerly BiasharaBot develops a chatbots platform that helps small and medium-sized businesses sell better online.
Their key features include an AI-powered sales process through ChatBots, automated social media posts management services, payment integration, delivery solutions, and store order management dashboard, among others.
In 2018, Talklift secured US$100,000 from Leapfrog Ventures and Pangaea accelerator with plans to expand to Nigeria, South Africa
Tulaa – Market access for smallholder farmers in rural Africa
Tulaa is an agritech platform for smallholder farmers to access inputs, credit, and markets in Kenya.
Tulaa provides a simple and easy mobile money solution allowing rural smallholder farmers to borrow money to purchase the right inputs at the right time by bringing together input suppliers, financial institutions and farmers in a virtual marketplace.
Founded in July 2017 as a spin-off of Esoko by Hillary Miller-Wise closed a seed round of investment of US$627,000 led by AHL Venture Partners with participation from Global Partnerships/Eleos Social Venture Fund, Beyond Capital, and Rafiki Ventures.
The company says it is working with nearly 10,000 farmers and has established partnerships with Syngenta, Toyota, OCP and MFI’s.
Lynk – Transforming the informal sector
Lynk is an on-demand recruitment startup that seeks to transform Africa’s informal labour sector by providing a technology platform that connects workers to clients.
Founded in 2015 by Johannes Degn and Adam Grunewald, the startup offers a network of professionals, allowing customers to book services from over 60 categories, ranging from plumbers, electricians, carpenters, hairdressers to nannies and tutors.
The platform works via mobile app, the web and SMS, and automatically identifies qualified workers based on sub-skills and other signals such as location, price, range, language and experience
In 2015, the startup was part of the cohort that was funded by the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator.
Tanda – Instant credit to semi-formal retailers
Tanda is a fintech startup working to revolutionize access to essential digital financial services for semi-formal retail outlets across Africa.
Through Tanda, the semi-formal retailers can not only access inventory credit, but also become access points for essential services such as airtime, utility payments, M-banking & insurance for their customers hence commission earnings for the retailers.
Tanda is backed by White Rhino Ventures and also works with On Demand Mobile, Google MB, Pesapoint, Surf and Ddaas as its partners and aims to roll out across Kenya in the next few months then expand into 4 more countries in Q3 of 2019 after a Series A funding round.
Bismart – Be smart and buy smart insurance
Bismart is an insurtech that aggregates and leverages on digital platforms and technologies to connect customers to the best insurance and investments solutions available in the market. The platform provides users with the ability to compare and purchase insurance products on their platform right from their mobile phones.
Founded by Eunice Maina in 2017, the startup aims to bring about transparency, convenience and trust when it comes to insurance and customers can also make their claims through their portal and have it delivered noting that they have also partnered with an underwriter.
The startup secured undisclosed funding from GreeTec Capital Partners in 2018.
Taimba – Innovating the agricultural value chain
Taimba is a business to a business mobile-based cashless platform that connects farmers to retailers, cutting wastage and making agricultural products affordable without undercutting the farmer.
Founded in 2016 by Dominique Kavuisya and Brandon Copperfield, this agritech startup provides a streamlined channel between farmers and greengrocers, resulting in higher prices paid
promptly to the farmers and quality produce delivered cheaper to greengrocers.
In 2018, the startup won US$10,000 at SXSW (Food+City Challenge Prize) in Texas. In addition, it was named the winner of the inaugural Disrupt Africa Live Pitch Competition in Nairobi.
Flexpay – Offering Flexible payments for purchased goods and services
FlexPay is a FinTech startup that enables companies to offer their customers flexible ways to pay for their products and services. Whether its retail shopping, school fees, tour and travel or crowdfunding, FlexPay provides a financing management platform of flexible, instalments/payment options.
Customers can reserve and book products or services in advance and pay for them over a stipulated period of time (instalments) through existing mobile money and bank transfer channels whether it’s retail shopping, school fees, tour and travel or crowdfunding, FlexPay provides a financing management platform of flexible, instalments/payment options.
Founded by Dennis Karanu, Martin Maina, Richard Machomba, Johnson Mwangi, was part of 2018 Google Launchpad Accelerator Africa and is already working top retailers including Jumia, Bonfire and Tusky’s, Kenya’s largest supermarket.
Tozza Plus – Manage your workforce from time to payroll to payout
TozzaPlus is SaaS startup that provides cloud-based workforce management system with biometric Time Tracking, Human Resource (HR) & Payroll Management with automated salary payment to employees’ mobile wallets and Bank Accounts.
Their aim is to be the go-to workforce management solution for businesses located in Africa by providing a cutting-edge enterprise HR and payroll software at a price point that can be availed by any business. By using a multi-module system, they help companies automate payroll from punch-in to payout.
Founded in 2017 by Paul Kimani secured US$50,000 from Pangaea Accelerator