Kenyan rural tech incubator Sote Hub is expanding to the coastal Kwale County this month, rolling out ICT training for young people in partnership with the Kwale County Government’s Biashara Centre. Sote Hub and the Kwale County Government will work together to offer ICT training to young people and support capacity building programmes in areas of entrepreneurship and skills development for SMEs.
“By expanding to Kwale it means the hub believes in the high competitive edge in terms of trade, industry, mining and tourism due to its strategic location and natural assets. However, the youth unemployment and underemployment remains a major challenge within the area.”
-statement from Sote Hub
The Hub addresses certain shortcomings whereby the education systems in most sub-Saharan African countries do not invest in skills development as the focus is in providing the prerequisites of a white collar job in the formal and urban sector leaving one unprepared for the “real” world.
Through this, Sote Hub hopes young entrepreneurs can turn their ideas into viable commercial entities, creating jobs for themselves and others while also promoting the culture of using ICT to create innovations that will not only help the particular students in the schools within rural areas facing limited or no ICT exposure but also help the educators as well.
Sote Hub’s favourite pitch goes something close to this:
Taita Taveta is best known for the renowned Tsavo West National Park.
Tour guides, not techies, rule the roost here.
That is what they seek to change. With the support of SlovakAid and Pontis Foundation they set up a high school ICT and business programme.
The Sote Hub idea was born from the Sote ICT project which started in 2010, implementing holistic approach that combines ICT integration and training with business skills at 12 schools in Taita Taveta. Sote ICT installs tech labs in secondary schools whose outcome is ICT literacy that rivals any in the country.
The ICT initiative is supplemented with a business training element through business clubs. The clubs are linked to actual companies like KCB, Madison Insurance, Wildlife Works and some hotels, for mentorship. To date, the Sote ICT project has reached out to over 5,800 students and 200 teachers.
Among other things, Sote Hub offers seed capital of up to $2,200, full use of the working space, facilities and internet in the hub, advice and guidance from experienced business mentors, the chance to network with angel investors, accounting at discounted rates, coaching in presentation skills, and intellectual property management.
The hub is mainly focusing on being a business incubator for graduates, exposing them to mentorship, training, and networking opportunities over a 12-month period. Presently, the hub hosts over 18 startups. Some of the outstanding ones include one that makes 3D filaments from recycled plastic.