Techstars selects first East African company

The international investors that have boosted more than 650 technology start-ups have thrown their weight behind their first East African company, Kenya’s Bamba Group.

US accelerator TechStars believes Kenya’s Bamba Group could be the next AirBnB or Dropbox within the next five years.

The experts will put Bamba through intensive training in Austin, Texas, and give them a cash investment to fast-track their growth.

TechStars Austin Managing Director, Amos Schwartzfarb (@iamamoslee), said: “We are very happy to select the first company from East Africa into the TechStars programme. Bamba Group is a testament to our globalized world where a startup from any corner of the planet can rise up, pursue their passion and make a lasting impact on the world.”

Bamba Group, a Nairobi-based business founded 3 years ago, developed a data collection software that can run in any country. It is the only company in the world that will send a mobile airtime payment directly to your phone when you submit data in as many as 122 countries.

The cloud-based system is used by major not-for-profit and for-profit companies in Kenya including Aga Khan Foundation, Nairobi Airport Services, and Diamond Trust Bank.

Bamba Group CEO, Al Ismaili (@al_ismaili), is thrilled his company is among the 2% of the applicants who are accepted into the programme.

Al Ismaili
Bamba Group CEO, Al Ismaili

Ismaili along with two other co-founders Faiz Hirani (@FaizHirani) and Shehzad Tejani (@Tejanishehzad) will attend a 13-week acceleration programme for hands-on mentorship and gain access to the TechStars Network, which includes more than 5000 people including founders, alumni, and global mentors. Following the initial financial investment from TechStars, companies go on to raise an average of over $3-million in capital after the programme.

Bamba is a staple in the Kenyan software scene as a result of its participation in the Presidential Digi-talent Programme (PDTP), a public–private partnership run by the ICT Authority in Kenya and commissioned by the President of Kenya. ICT graduates from Kenyan universities are selected for the one-year programme that includes world-class software training, soft-skills training, mentoring and guaranteed internships in both the public and private sector firms involved. Other organisations involved in this programme include Google, Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, Cisco and PwC.