Tour of the iHub Tech Incubator in Nairobi Kenya

December 30, 2010 · Print This Article

Today I visited the iHub, the “innovation hub” in Nairobi. It’s a tech incubator for developers. I met with Jessica Colaco, the iHub Manager. I got in touch with Jessica through Erik Hersman (@whiteafrican) of Ushahidi and Nathaniel Whittemore of AssetMap.

Take a look at this tour of their space I filmed this afternoon.

What is iHub?

iHub is an “open innovation space” with 2000 members. They have three levels of membership, white, green, and red. “White memberships” include virtual community access and are free. Green memberships are also free and include access to the space and events. Red memberships cost 10,000 Kenyan Shillings per month (about $125) and include a dedicated desk and access to conference rooms.

iHub has one of the fastest internet connections in Nairobi. When I visited at 3pm in the afternoon on the day before New Year’s Eve it was pretty busy with about 20 young developers working away, some in relaxing bean bags and other at open desks. I loved the feel of the place with a coffee stand, Matatu route map, high 20 foot ceilings, DJ-like booth for Jessica, programming book library, comfortable seating, and an outdoor terrace overlooking Nairobi.

Jessica says the purpose of iHub is to be a “encourage collaboration and be a physical nexus point between investors, academia, the tech communities, and tech companies.” iHub has fireside chats with tech entrepreneurs once per month. They recently had the CEO of SafariCom Michael Joseph do a chat. They also hold BarCamps, Designer Meetups, Research Meetups, and Hack-a-thons.

iHub recently hosted “Random Hacks of Kindness” which gave developers 36 hours to develop a software solution to problems that were submitted by the community. They also hosted Apps4Africa in conjunction with the U.S. State Department and Ugandan incubators Appfrica and HiveCoLabs.

iHub operates as a non-profit with the support of Erik Hersman’s Ushahidi and earns revenue from memberships, sponsorships, and event space rentals.

iHub reminded me a lot of LaunchBox, BullCity Forward, and JoystickLabs in Durham.

Happy New Year 2011!



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