Links to eDiary of the AIN Conference sessions and events

March 29, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Posted in AgriTech, AIN, Business Support, Economic Development, ICT, incubation, incubator, networking, Online Community, startup, Tools | Leave a comment
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You can just keep scrolling down and go back through time – OR you can click on the links to go straight to your session or event of choice.  As expressed in our newsletter to all AIN subscribers today, please add your comments, observations, tuppence worth and photos.
Pre Conference Journey I left home at 8am Sunday 14th to travel from Edinburgh to Durban (RSA). It was 6 deg C……..DAY 1 Welcome to all – Official opening
Session 1 Our international Perspective of incubation in Africa
Session 2
  Role of Incubation in Local Economic Development
SABTIA AGM  A look on the inside
Official Welcome Reception on the harbour front – POINT Yacht Club, Durban [I forgot to take my camera :(( – please post your photos ]DAY 2
Session 1   Women Youth and Rural Incubation 
Session 2  Good Practices and Economies of Scale 
& Session 3     Technology Incubation 
Gala Evening Dinner and entertainment  Dignitaries and Divas 
Touring Durban & award-winning Incubators


March 28, 2010 at 8:42 pm | Posted in AIN, Business Support, Economic Development, incubation, incubator, startup | Leave a comment
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SMART XCHANGE DURBAN thanks Robynne n Rajesh






FURNTECH thanks Iegshaan, Beryl & staff












Seda Construction Incubator MURAL - thanks Mthunzi





SKYLIFT - throw oot the anchor!!
SKYLIFT – throw oot the anchor!!







AIN Conference Durban 2010 Day 2 PM 18th March

March 26, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Posted in Business Support, Economic Development, incubation, incubator, startup, Tools | Leave a comment
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Our second session today focusing on Good Practices and Economies of Scale was moderated by Prof Norman Faull of the University of Cape Town and a SEDA board member.                


UPSCALING and REPLICATING INCUBATION session presenters Julie, Mthunzi, Cornelius & Michael


The speakers in this session included Mr. Michael Reddy, the CEO of Furntech Incubators HQ CapeTown RSA [7off],                

Furntech: Government, through its National Skills Development Strategy, identified training and skills development as significant drivers of international competitiveness and organisational development. In response to these requirements, the DTI funded the establishment and operationalisation of Furntech as a world-class service provider to South Africa’s wood products and furniture industries in the fields of incubation, training, technology transfer and technology demonstration.                

Michael made everyone pay attention by claiming first place in any incubation race! – Furntech are delighted to share their success with any visiting delegation, he tells us, because by the time we get up to his shoulders he and his team will be able to spurt ahead easily with new ideas and initiatives.   Furntech have replicated their incubator model 7 times now around South Africa and sure are having an impact internationally as well as domestically in the furniture supply sector.  TIC Nigeria       

Dr. Julie Momah, the Deputy Director of Technology, Technology Incubation Centres Nigeria, gave us an excellent overview of why Nigeria has invested for over 2 decades [first established 1988] in using incubation as a lever and building mechanism  for economic development.               

Nigeria [24 incubators] currently follows South Africa [40 incubators] in the number of technology centres in operation. So we have much to learn from their progress and future vision, particularly their well established stakeholder network. Stakeholder network         




TIC Kebbi

TIC Kebbi


Incubator model
Incubator model
 Mr.  Cornelius   Scheepers, the CEO of the Soshanguve   Manufacturing Technology Demonstration Centre [SMTDC] spoke to his subject ENTERPRISE INCUBATION Development Strategy, Twashane LED. RSA . 
Stemming from a Tri-nations working party collaboration[ Brazil / India / South Africa ], TDC’s are a winning concept adapted for African circumstance. This addresses broad-based black empowerment, BBE, new enterprise creation, increasing skills levels and GDP. It is replicable in various areas of South African economic development.

Finally Mthunzi Nyandeni the CEO of the Seda Construction Incubator, Durban RSA in South Africa.   SCI is the first incubator in the world targeting and supporting entrepreneurs within the Construction sector. Their business model includes clients paying SCI, a 1% share of contract sales turnover won, in return for entrepreneurial support, services and accommodation provided.            

Durban Stadium

World Cup Stadium completed Feb 2010


Crucially SCI now has a hub and 3 branches taking this incubator model to the RSA construction sector. Note To DAC Speaking to clients on our trip to SCI Durban tomorrow is a must – what is their experience of this process – How are they able to succeed in winning multi million rand contracts when elsewhere outside the incubator they remained individuals – brickies, painters, plumbers, scaffolders, carpenters  – on a survival existence?             

Session 3 today on Technology Incubation was to be moderated by Dr. Johannes Potgieter, the Chief Director of Innovation and Technology in the Department of Trade and Industry in South Africa and we had:             

The CEO of eGoliBio, Pretoria, RSA, Mr. Sipho Moshoane. eGoliBio is a contender for NBIA Incubator of year, 2010 at the upcoming Convention in the USA.  Well done and good luck in the finals  Team  eGliBio!        

eGoliBio“Collaboration is the key” Sipho gave us a look under the bonnet of his incubator – how it is collaborating and contracting, using MoU’s, with local, regional, national + African, USA, Indian, Brazilian and European, MNC’s and Academic research institutions.             

These cross-sector actions are all designed to bring new innovations to create and perfect IP faster than before, each with the maximum added value and channels to international markets.            

Smart Xchange



Ms. Robin Erwin, the CEO of infoDEV award-winning Smart Exchange of South Africa. Robin tells us that the SmartXchange incubation model is still being adapted and developed in the light of experience and feedback from incubatees and supporters.  No one is resting on their laurels of past successes.           

Clearly and crucially, Robynne explains to us how and why SmartXchange uses events and forums extensively in awareness raising. Allowing sponsors, SME’s, local government and academia access to their clients in order to cross fertilise ICT needs and software solutions.   Again we hear how monitoring and goal setting with their clients is crucial to successful and timely graduation as SmartXchange repeats its successful results time and time again. Rental costs increase over time to encourage exit. Hot-desking and virtual clients are incentivised and encouraged. Even the best of startups need specific training and discipline to embed financial controls and monthly reporting. To remain a client this is the norm.          

New initiatives with their own Microsoft Accredited Academy include training youth people and women – giving them access to technology, skills and increased confidence that ICT is indeed a career path open to all in Durban. New companies need these internet savvie and computer literate recruits.          

Ms. Leoni Greyling, the CEO of Softstart Business Technology Incubator, Johannesburg RSA. Leoni brought our attention to their successful hub and spoke model of “satellite incubation” – raising awareness in academic institutions and leading students and post-graduate researchers to become entrepreneurial in their vision and thirst for commercial success.          


softstart focus


Assessing graduates via business planning through virtual pre-incubator, business incubation and then into bricks and mortar on either a hot desking or full-time basis as teams form and head for market.           

Softstart BTIThe primary focus of SoftstartBTI is on the Concept and Development Phases of ventures. Businesses in the Concept Phase, for instance, make use of SoftstartBTI’s mentoring services in the development of a coherent conceptual analysis.        

These are encapsulated and charted monthly and quarterly using tailored software which is also available to all infoDEV / AIN incubators.   

Mr. Chris Vermeulen, the General Manager for Bandwidth Barn, Cape Town, RSA.    Chris took us through the Bandwidth Barn incubation programme including telling  impact assessments in terms of survival, turnover and jobs sustained. An impressive 78 – 99% of the BwB companies created, streamed and graduated are surviving in the Cape Province.     Launched in 2000 as CITI’s flagship project, the Bandwidth Barn fast tracks the pace of business growth in the ICT sector in the Western Cape by helping businesses to establish themselves, commercialise new products and services, create jobs and wealth and add economic diversity to the community.          

Focusing on SMMEs in the Province, the BWB encourages innovation and provides ongoing training and support needed to help clients to overcome the entry barriers to start-up, survival and grow their businesses and thus accelerating their development.           

The BWB executes its strategy via its Accel Enterprise Development Programme, including the Velociti, My Business Group, My Mentor and Women in ICT enterprise development programmes. Running as well their ICT awareness programmes such as Youth in IT and VIP Graduate.          

The most recent announcement of the Cisco partnership and graduate competitions are typical of their groundbreaking work.           

Business incubator Bandwidth Barn has been accredited as a Cisco Entrepreneur Institute training centre. As part of the winning mandate, Bandwidth Barn will create an additional 10 local institutes over an 18-month period.           

Each of the training centres will give entrepreneurs access to a broad network of other business owners, mentors, partners, and distribution channels. “Through this powerful network, we will be more able to develop best practice, while offering our local entrepreneurs a global stage for learning, and potentially their products and services.” says Chris. According to Cisco, the entrepreneur institute targets predominantly emerging market countries. It offers a series of workshops made up of business-relevant content from Stanford University, Cornell University, and non-profit development organisation, My Own Business.          

Participants discuss strategic ideas ranging from information delivery to the use of Internet technologies to drive business growth. Cisco points to the lack of business skills and poor access to technology as being the primary reasons for business failure.          

Bessie Manchu, Cisco Entrepreneur Institute territory manager for SA, says: “With the Cisco Entrepreneur Institute, core business skills and knowledge on how to use technology to their advantage is taught to help equip entrepreneurs and create a positive economic and social impact in South African communities.”           

 We have almost arrived at the end of DAY 2 of the 3 day conference programme and everyone we have spoken to is clear that this has been highly inspirational to many delegates and guest speakers – a highly charged and timely delivery of the best incubation practices and programmes currently running in Africa.          

Throughout the proceedings on Day 1 & 2 our speakers and moderators have received stunning memento’s of our time in Durban. These have been made by local artisans and crafts people and framed by Furntech cabinet makers.    

I look forward to my own hanging as a reminder of what has been a life changing week spent with my colleagues, friends and new aquaintances. Thankyou all for contributing and participating whole-heartedly.    

Now that we have met face to face, we each look forward to continue the experience by working and collaborating online – especially with those of you who have sought me out for access, coaching and training in sharing knowledge and meeting virtually via our AIN resources on the Internet.     

At close of today’s proceedings, CEO of the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA): Ms. Hlonela Lupuwana, Mr. Sipho Zikode, the Acting Deputy Director General in the Department of Trade and Industry (South Africa), and Mr. Michael Reddy, the CEO of Furntech would deliver the concluding address, which was followed by the vote of thanks by Mr. Jayesh Ravjee, The Head of SEDA Technology Programme and Chairperson of the SABTIA:RSA.              

Mignon flip charts

Mignon flip charts


 In direct response to a question posed from the floor by the DTI representative – Everyone participated in an impromptu half hour – “What one thing would we like to be / do different due to this conference?”    This produced a flip chart list of 20 actions /outcomes that we all wish to see happen before we meet again next year! {placeholder for same}           

The evening Gala Dinner and SABTIA Recognition Awards downtown at the Hilton Hotel were to prove just as entertaining as everything we have experienced thus far – watch this space………            

AIN Conference Durban, PM Wednesday 17th March 2010

March 24, 2010 at 8:43 pm | Posted in AIN, Business Support, Economic Development, ICT, incubation, incubator, startup | 1 Comment
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Lunch was sprinkled with gems – meeting colleagues for the first time that I have collaborated with over the past three years only by phone, Skype and email. Amongst the notables were Phindile, Lynnette, Leone, Lalane, Charles, Ben, Iegshaan, Gordon & Quinton.    

Mark, Beryl, Lee, Alan, Goosain & Paul introduced themselves with business cards and brochures and the new bits of the AIN network jigsaw started to get filled around the edges for me.    

After lunch, we moved on to the role of Incubation in Local Economic Development.

This session was moderated by Mr. Phindile Tshabangu, who is the Business Developer for Innovus Technology Transfer, at the University of Stellenbosch in the Western Cape Province South Africa. Phindile is a cool dude when it come to cartoons!!    

Mr. Nigel Gwynne Evans, Director: Department of Economic Development and Tourism in the Western Cape Provincial Government in South Africa.    

no seats left

Standing room only today


Coming after lunch, Nigel came into the don’t dare fall asleep or you will miss some important advice.   Clusters – A framework for Incubation 
Touring Cluster networks in Italy and France brought us to why the Western Cape seem well versed in using incubation as an economic development lever. It came across loud and clear and goes back 14 years now. With 24 established and emerging clusters  – Michael Porter must have visited here for sure?      

‘Nigels department is 250 strong and surely plays hardball in winning budget and projects for his region. Sounds like they have 7 new incubators in the pipeline too – WOW what a note to finish upon!!!! NB Must add Cape Town to my To Do list [and maybe tour the wine cluster] – sheesh I need more paper.    

Nigel’s demand that  Sector Focused Incubators should not be considered unless framed within a cluster context! ensured that we ended his presentation on the edge of our seats with questions in mind.    

in conferenceMr. Phillip Sithole, the Head of Business Support and Markets Unit in the Ethekwini Municipality (of which this beautiful city of Durban is a part), gave us the Eastern Coast experience.  { NB Presentation to be uploaded when available} Philip also whetted our appetite for Fridays tour of Durban’s good and great incubators with SMART XCHANGE top of our list.     

Mr. Caiphus Chauke, the Executive Director is responsible for Local Economic Development in the Tshwane Metro, in Gauteng South Africa.   ENTERPRISE INCUBATION Development Strategy, Twashane LED. RSA 
With a staff of 11 (jings maybe small but performing miracles) he made sure we became aware of the way incubation and technology demonstration centres have mitigated the downturn in manufacturing while strengthening the supply chains and recently  attracting Foreign Direct Investment from the likes of BMW and Ford to his province and elsewhere in South Africa. RSA is definitely punching above its weight in the 21st C.    

With strong support and training programmes for University graduates and entrepreneurs,  Caiphus’s team and their Public and Private Partners have another 9 incubators are in the planning pipeline. Do they get any sleep I wonder.    

Densely populated [90% increase in Southern region and +22% overall ] and with many educational challenges – Caiphus explained the strategic sectoral programmes being implemented with alacrity and focus.  
—Automotives and Related products —Tourism and Related Services —Agriculture and Agro-processing —Aerospace and Defence Technologies —Mixed Manufacturing —Business Process Outsourcing & Off-shoring —Research and Development —Alternative and Renewable Energies ØInvestment Target = R400 million p/a    

Questions were masterfully delegated and speedily despatched by our moderator and even after this session finished many delegates  stayed back and button holed their speaker of choice. No hiding place could be found……….    


AIN Conference Durban, AM Wednesday 17th March 2010

March 24, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Posted in AgriTech, AIN, Business Support, Economic Development, ICT, incubation, incubator, Online Community, startup, Tools | 1 Comment
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Up early and revised my speech. Nerves and adrenalin kick in as we move towards the commencement of first day’s proceedings. Decide to skip breakfast and to have a hearty lunch once I have spoken!! Check out my ppt works (phew safety net in place, now I can deliver it?) 

Day1Discover we will have a full conference room with 130+ delegates. There have been a number of last-minute entries and arrivals.  

As everyone registers, we get delegate bags, agendas and brochures including a superb publication “celebrating incubation in Africa 2010” packed with incubator facts, client success stories and forewords from Valerie, Michael and Jayesh. If the proceedings can match this standard of knowledge and dissemination – boy are we all going to be glad we came. 

Incubator exhibitorsThe adjacent room is for coffee and breakout networking and already the place is buzzing. Lots of smiles and handshakes as we re-aquaint or meet for the first time face to face. We are surrounded by exhibition stands revealing the breadth and depth of markets’ AIN and SEDA incubator clients are already taking to Domestic and International markets. 


These range from essential oils, natural extracts and nutrients for the starving and rural many to products for thoroughbred race horses – organic & “green” cleaning and disinfectants for hospitals – Crafts and jewelry, smart software, digital media and e-commerce. 

One stand is dedicated to franchise opportunities – never thought of bog rolls as a route into your own business? 

Definitely worth spending more time here speaking to the staff and their clients – add to dac’s  TO DO list. 

Koogan Nairoo our programme director gets us all seated and gives us taste for what lies ahead. [click to view doc] Calm and unflappable – just what you need when logistics of late arriving speakers raise their heads. 


Welcome and Official opening By Hlonela, Logie, Valerie, Jayesh & Michael


Firstly the CEO of the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA): Ms. Hlonela Lupuwana performed the official opening declaring not only how wedded South Africa is to incubation for economic growth but showing her personal committment to AIN and SABTIA by remaining with us throughout the 2 days proceedings – a first in my experience of previous conferences. Thank you. 

Opening addressMr. Deputy Mayor, Councillor Logie Naidoo avoiding the jokes about the gridlock and Durban traffic welcomed us all to Durban, He regaled us with why come to Durban? It has the World Cup venue closest to the beach and with the most sunshine – we must all decide to be here in June. The best stadium, the city with the most fibre connectivity, the best incubators recognised by the World bank and infoDEV, the best conference venue in Africa AND the best Local and Provincial governments. 


Valerie da Costa, Head of infoDEV


Now we were all spellbound and glad to be here. We listened as Ms Valerie da Costa Head of infoDEV presented their new investment strategy to the Conference. [click to view ppt] Lots of opportunities for partnership, collaboration and action – just the food to give the troops, sitting on the stage I could see the cogs ticking and the pens writing furiously hanging on her every word. 

THEN Jayesh whispers I am up second before and NOT after him. Before I realise I am in full swing – trying not to get too excited  – speak slowly David as with your dialect no one will understand a word………. 

growing Africa through incubationGrowing the African Incubation Network [click to view ppt] Solvebrand is based in Scotland 1 hour north of Edinburgh but in real-time it is “only an arm’s length away” [between head & keyboard] from everybody in AIN and our virtual business incubator clients within North America, Europe, Africa and New Zealand!
We started using Skype in 2002 as no. 70,000 and 70,001  to support and collaborate with our network. 


David, AIN webmaster


Now when we go online over 20M people are talking at the same time. VOIP has saved our incubator $10000 in telephone costs alone. Two examples of our most successful clients are Dr Phil Harrington, YouBloom, based in LA/Ireland and Jessica Fulmer Mo-DV Inc, HQ in San Francisco. 

Nobody looks like they are falling asleep from jet lag – good – proof will come in the question time.  

I then showed the audience that;
* From the 50+ incubators on our AIN Bing map 6 months ago, we have now located over 150 incubation centres and hotspots in 25 countries.
* From the 300+ AIN membership, we now have accumulated 500 subscribers including diaspora and expats seeking to support African Incubators and entrepreneurs.
* I also took the opportunity to explain the recent membership experiments with AIN on LinkedIN [click to join  – sourcing fellow incubator professionals, supporters and mentors] and AIN on YouNoodle [click to join – tools for AIN newsletters, networking, competitions and forecasting ventures’ success]. 


Jayesh, Seda STP International perspective


Jayesh completed our International Perspective by showing us the impact incubation is making within Southern Africa.   “Turning 8 in 10 failures into 8 in 10 successes”  STP Incubators in Comparison Internationally [click to view ppt] 

AIN RSAI noted there are 29  STP-supported incubators across South Africa serving 17 industry sectors and sub-sectors. 
  1 x Private Sector Incubator  
  4 x Incubators that have Local and Provincial Govt support
  Approx another 5 that do Incubation related services  

Incubation in RSA has been around for approx 10 years  
Almost all Incubators are not University based.  
All STP Incubators models have been adopted internationally but adapted to South African needs creating – Growth, Equity and Employment. 

We now all sat down bang on time and opened the floor to questions – they came thick and fast from the floor, many probed, some enhanced others thirsty for more examples. A lively and rewarding exchange of professional and succinct responses. …………..and so downstairs to lunch

AIN Conference Durban, Tuesday 16th March 2010

March 23, 2010 at 10:03 am | Posted in AgriTech, AIN, Business Support, Economic Development, ICT, incubation, incubator, Online Community, startup, Tools | Leave a comment
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I left home at 8am Sunday 14th to travel from Edinburgh to Durban (RSA). It was 6 deg C. 

It was my first ever flights with Emirates and I will definitely use them again if the opportunity arises. Dubai is a stunning airport terminal with every facility you could wish for to pamper your needs. 

Touched down safely and smoothly but somewhat tired at in Durban 6pm local time on Monday evening after international transfers at Manchester and Dubai. Local temperature was a magical 26 deg C!! 

The Airport was busy. This is clearly a World Cup venue as I read all the advertising on display. Pity I am 82 days early and Scotland did not qualify. I am not allowed to say “Anyone but England” as that is deemed to be racist here in UK!! Well we can but hope – “”Come oan South Africa“” we will be watching every move? 

BTW What is this Fitba’ Friday thingie I hear people speaking aboot? (Sorry I do lapse into my Scots vernacular when I start to get excited.) 

Wow – the AIN conference is up on the adverts too – well done Pat & Zama @ ProactivePR. 

AIN conference 2010 

Don’t ya just luv that logo………growing Africa through incubation – yup that works for me. 

At breakfast on Tuesday I met Dr Mbarou Mbaye from Senegal one of the AIN committee members. I had previously talked with Mbarou via Skype so I already knew she is on the infoDEV global research Study team – incubator support for women into business. More on that topic later. 

Delegates continued to appear at our beautiful new venue Coastlands upon the Ridge during Tuesday – early for the conference which was due to start on the Wednesday. I find lasting and effective relationships often start with chance meetings during the times before during and after these collaborative events and today was no exception. 

In no particular order I met Dr. Julie Momah from the Technology Incubation Centres, Nigeria, Ms. Valerie da Costa, head of infoDEV, Steve Giddings, Regional Facilitator, Jill Sawers, InfoDEV Consultant and Ellen Olafsen, Operations Officer from infoDEV. 

InfoDEV support has been crucial and a catalyst and attractor for leveraging government and regional funding much of what has happened to grow AIN to this point – our third Annual Conference in Southern Africa. 




Another AIN committee member from Bandwidth Barn in Cape Town, CEO , Chris Vermuelen, arrived and we shared experiences on running competitions to select entrepreneurs suitable for incubation support and facilitation. I know he burned the the midnight oil Tuesday/Wednesday to make sure all the entries for the Cape competition were compliant as the 17th was the closing day for entries. Who says men can’t multi-task? 

The BWB Cisco online Entrepreneurial programme has just launched and sounds really good. It is a new exciting initiative for sub Saharan Africa! Good on you Chris. 

Jayesh Ravjee from STP / SABTIA and Michael Reddy FURNTECH /AIN hosted an informal evening meeting to welcome the infoDEV and AIN team members to Durban and to share progress on all fronts – Sub Sahara in advance of the Conference. 

Compared to other regional business incubation networks we are coming from behind. We have just reached 500+ subscribers for our Newsletter, while infoDEV have 5000 subscribers world-wide. Pulling our socks up with this conference is a timely and welcome shot in the arm for everyone interested in making a difference within Africa. 

infoDEV Nokia

infoDEV & Nokia partners


For their part Valerie gave us a good heads up, prior to her leading presentation in the morning. The “ink is still wet” on infoDEV’s recently agreed 2 year €11.9 million programme “Creating Sustainable Businesses in the Knowledge Economy” with support from Nokia and the Government of Finland. This will target Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe with particular support for countries including Cambodia (initiatives to support women), Nepal, Mozambique, Tanzania and Vietnam (initiatives to support women). 

With 4.6 billion mobile users around the world today we have the world’s biggest platform for economic development. It can clearly be utilised to transform the ability of the illiterate and computer-less population within developing world giving unfettered access to support within rural and urban communities. 

The recent Mobile Monday rollouts are a core part of raising awareness and the impact of mobile technology can have within Africa 

MobileMonday to launch chapters in Africa
09 Feb 2010 MobileMonday has announced the opening of chapters in Kampala, Uganda and Nairobi, Kenya. The Kampala chapter opens its doors on March 8, and the Nairobi chapter launches on March 11. A new South African chapter will also open in Capetown. After over a year of background work, the global organization formed a partnership with the World Bank to take the community’s concepts to several African countries. … 

and so to bed, my head reeling with new opportunities for sub Saharan Africa……….tomorrows conference launch awaited us.

iHub shows the way for African Incubation

March 8, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Posted in Business Support, Economic Development, ICT, incubation, incubator, startup | Leave a comment
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Application developers, web designers and other techies in Nairobi now have a place to meet, network and get connected to the right people to further their causes.

The iHub nairobi opened on Wednesday evening promising to be the launching pad for great technology ideas from the grassroots. Short, for Innovation Hub, the facility on Nairobi?s Ngong Road is open to anybody with an interest in technology and seeks to build partnerships with industry and mentoring.

Are we witnessing here the start of a trend in continent, which will allow local techies to have a platform to develop share their inventions and ideas on a national level?

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