Kenya is among the “second world” countries, which means they’re emerging but are yet to be considered a developed nation. This is because, whilst standards of living are improving and the economy is strong compared to many of its neighbors, there are still shortcomings regarding infrastructure and poverty.
We often take a look around at startups across the globe and lose perspective. On the one hand, many goods and services simply only exist in the first world. This may be because of differences in priority, but it could simply be that there are no customers to afford the goods or services. Recent reports show that Kenya is also suffering from a cost of living crisis.
On the other hand, many developing nations have startups and solutions that have not yet hit the developed world. For example, paying for everyday goods with a mobile phone has been fairly dominant in China and Africa for years (i.e. WeChat), whilst Americans were still writing cheques in restaurants.
Why? One reason could be that having a bank account isn’t commonplace in the third world, or that the need for the solution is more desperate for one reason or another. So whilst Kenya may lag behind the West in many ways, innovation is fueled by necessity.
Best Next Startups to Start in Kenya
With that in mind, here are 10 interesting startups from around the world that do not currently exist in Kenya.
1. Online Will Makers
Creating a will can be both costly and time-consuming, making them devastatingly uncommon for young and middle-aged people to create one. Online will makers are a solution to this over in the US, as they offer very cheap will creation thanks to the cost-effectiveness of automatic online forms (as opposed to meeting with a law professional), and they’re exceedingly easy.
It’s estimated that around 60% of Kenyans do not have a will, but given that smartphones are commonplace, there’s no need for this statistic to be so low.
2. Bike and Car Sharing
A development in the past five years that has swept much of Europe has been the idea of sharing bicycles and even cars through a paid online service. With Citybee for example, you head towards a dedicated car, unlock it using the app, and the app will record how far (or how long) you drive. When you park, the app charges you accordingly, and you get a preferential rate if you park it back in a dedicated area.
With the rise in commodity prices around the globe, driving a car just got a lot more expensive, not to mention the fact that buying a car in Kenya is particularly expensive too (extremely high import taxes). Car or even bike sharing could be a great way for Kenyans to use transport as and when they need it, instead of buying and running a car.
Many Kenyans still do not have access to healthcare, and the likes of HPIC Canada are trying to help them through online consultation. This shows the power of telehealthcare, as you can receive treatment remotely from the other side of the world. But, there are of course issues with using these foreign services like time differences, lack of local knowledge, and expensive currency exchange. Worst of all, though, are the differences in healthcare costs. The average Kenyan can’t afford the typical rates that western doctors charge.
There are telehealthcare companies cropping up every day it seems in the west, whether they’re delivering therapy, psychiatry, or general practitioners diagnosing physical symptoms. There is room for innovation here, given that 61 million Kenyans have a mobile phone. This could be life-saving for those that live in rural areas and are underserved.
Part of what telehealth companies offer, which is no less important than treating people’s physical health, is a form of psychological therapy or mental support. Ranging from remote marriage counseling to treating anxiety, online therapy has been proven helpful and can help Kenyans. Mental health in Kenya is a major concern by itself.
4. Vegan Food
Kenya’s cuisine is historically heavily vegetarian. This means that most of the country sees vegetarian meals as completely normal, which is great. But, as the country grew its middle class, meat consumption seemingly grew along with it. Protein, particularly animal protein, is expensive.
The veganism trend hasn’t completely left Kenya untouched. There seems to be an appetite for sticking with plant-based diets. But, it’s evident that vegan substitute food isn’t really a thing there. And, whilst it wouldn’t be driven by necessity, much of the meat-loving middle classes could be drawn to a vegan substitute.
5. Solar Blinds
SolarGaps is a Californian-based startup that is looking to help power the home with green energy. To do this, they sell smart blinds which have solar panels built in, and they track the sun automatically.
Even more impressively, perhaps, is that they provide rigorous shade to help cool down the inside of the building. This could be a good solution to the hot weather and rising energy prices in Kenya - it helps reduce 30% of air-conditioning consumption. Kenya is already close to 100% clean energy, and this could help get them there.
6. Vinted Second Hand Clothing
Vinted is an online solution to the demand for second-hand clothes. Created in Lithuania, it has recently seen worldwide success but has yet to expand to Africa.
Kenyans aren’t strangers to the idea of second-hand clothing, but with a growing appetite for branded clothes along with a growing use of e-commerce, it makes sense that a safe P2P platform is created so that Kenyans can buy and sell clothes online to each other.
7. Too Good to Go - Restaurant Leftovers
Too Good to Go, which has yet to expand too far out of Europe and North America, is an environmentally-conscious way to cut down on food waste whilst giving an opportunity to buy great quality food for cheap. In essence, it’s a way for the everyday person to be connected to local restaurants that are about to throw away unused food, and instead, buy it from them.
Whilst the goal was to cut food waste, its success is more down to the value it provides to the customer: restaurant food for cheap prices.
8. PiggyVest - Education and Savings
PiggyVest is a Nigerian startup in which users, who must have a bank account and smartphone, can automatically save money and invest it. This is popular around the world, but they’re often restricted by local regulations.
As for PiggyVest, a Naira bank account is required, and so there is clearly a need for Kenyans to enjoy a similar service that offers financial education and smart savings functionality to help increase financial literacy among the youth.
9. Drone Deliveries
It may seem far-fetched, but the west is on the brink of drone deliveries becoming commonplace. It’s seen as the sustainable future of logistics, and with Kenya’s green ambitions, this could be a perfect match.
Any poor infrastructure, such as under-maintained roads, becomes irrelevant when drones are used for delivery. They’re electric, which Kenya has in abundance, and they’re automated. With the rise in local e-commerce, drone deliveries could be the future.
10. Water Filtering Subscription
Only 59% of Kenyans have access to safe and clean drinking water, making it one of the biggest problems the country faces. Water filtering is fairly common, but Oollee in the US believes they have a solution: for a monthly fee, they will send ordinary filters by postal delivery.
This is crucial because as the watering filter is used, it deteriorates and so does the effectiveness of the filtering process. They need to be regularly changed but it’s a nuisance and easy to forget - two things that a subscription solves.
Summary of Next Startups to Start in Kenya
Kenya can borrow from other countries in Europe and the US and come up with excellent startups. These startups can create job opportunities for many Kenyans and reduce the unemployment level. Besides, it can also help improve the standards of living among many Kenyans living in dire poverty.