© EcoBodaa

02.11.2021

Kenya: New companies providing fresh boost for transport

Nairobi’s growing population is pushing the transport system to its limits. New ideas for solutions are coming from local start-ups.

Traffic jams, polluted air and unreliable public transport – Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi is facing many challenges in the transport sector. On average, its 4.5 million inhabitants need almost an hour to get to work or school. As one of the ten most congested cities in the world, Nairobi is particularly hard hit, but many other growing African cities are facing a similar situation. 

Nobody knows the challenges more than the local people. That’s why they’re working to find solutions themselves. In Nairobi, young start-ups in particular are developing ideas for the mobility of the future. To put their ideas into practice, these young entrepreneurs are receiving support from a six-month funding programme set up by the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI), which is a global implementation initiative on sustainable mobility. Christopher Maara used this support to further develop his start-up KiriEV, which aims to supply Nairobi’s residents with e-scooters. ‘The mentors from TUMI helped us refine our business model and make informed business decisions,’ he reports.

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is also involved in Kenya as a partner of TUMI. In the TUMI Challenge, GIZ, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), brings young entrepreneurs together with experts from development cooperation, academia and research as well as the private sector. Transport experts, for example, advise the start-ups in workshops, which also focus on setting up and expanding their business models. The Smatbeba start-up, which received a prize as the winner of the funding programme, particularly impressed. The company arranges vehicles for all kinds of cargo deliveries. CEO Anthony Ndolo is highly satisfied with his company’s development: ‘During the programme, we grew six-fold within six months.’

What began as a local initiative in Kenya is intended to benefit the entire region in the long term. Beyond supporting individual start-ups, the TUMI Challenge is boosting the entire business landscape in East Africa. Anthony Ndolo also has plenty of plans: ‘We’re looking to win more customers in future and expand our services to the whole of Africa.’ 

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