Startups challenged to solve market needs first

Thursday February 25 2016

Intellecap chief executive Nisha Dutt addresses

Intellecap chief executive Nisha Dutt addresses participants at the Kenya School of Government, Lower Kabete in Kiambu County on February 25, 2016. PHOTO | JAMES KARIUKI 

More by this Author

Kenya entrepreneurs were Thursday urged to concentrate their innovation efforts in meeting a market need before seeking external funding to expand operations.

Intellecap Chief Executive Ms Nisha Dutt told a global two-day forum attended by 900 entrepreneurs and social impact investors dubbed ’ Sankalp Africa’ that businesses that answered a unique urgent mass market need were highly likely to attract funding.

“No investor wants to invest in an untested idea but one where demand is seen to be growing and the only way out is to scale up production to meet the need. Every entrepreneur must start by seeking financial aid from own sources, family and friends before going to the outside world,” she said.

Ms Dutt urged attendants to form local and global networks to improve their management skills as well as improve their investment pitching skills.

The chief executive said that Intellecap’s three year presence in Kenya had shown existence of a linkage gap between entrepreneurs and investors thereby failing to address the needs of community that also create jobs in the process.


She added that the not-for-profit global body was closely monitoring operations in various startups with viable investments but lacked book keeping and managerial skills.

This could see businesses become investor ‘hotcakes’ once they are legally registered, with updated bank balances that clearly show their financial history as well as a clear management structure with a proven market for their products.

Sankalp Africa is a global initiative by Intellecap that seeks to create an all-inclusive business environment that primarily driven by the private sector.

Ms Dutt spoke when she disclosed that 13 startups dealing in delivery of phone based financial products, environmental issues, smallholder agricultural products, energy-saving stoves, water and waste management had been shortlisted to pitch for funding at the forum.

Private equity Firm, Alpha Africa Asset Management Managing Director Ms Andia Chakava urged investors to concentrate their funds on projects that show resilience.