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Kenya's Bamba Group the next Dropbox?

Kenya's Bamba Group the next Dropbox?

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

A statement released this week explained how global investors behind 650 tech startups have come out in support of the Kenyan company.

Nairobi-based Bamba Group was founded 3 years ago and developed data collection software that can run in any country. It claims to be the only company worldwide that will send a mobile airtime payment directly to a phone when data is submitted by the user.

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.

Experts are intrigued and have committed to invest in the company to fast-track the Kenyan company's growth and place it in an intensive training course in Austin, Texas.

Bamba Group CEO, Al Ismaili, along with two other co-founders Faiz Hirani and Shehzad Tejani, 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.

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

Ismaili is thrilled his company is among the 2% of the applicants who are accepted into the programme. "It is our employees that are most deserving of this selection. We now look forward to the next stage of our growth with a new saying around the office - something we now hear regularly from our new mentors at TechStars - 'Do More Faster'. We hope to make Africa proud," he said.

Kenya's ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru, said: "I congratulate Bamba Group for this great opportunity and hope they will inspire many more start-ups to get recognised globally."

He added: "Kenya recognises the economic and social benefit of innovation and entrepreneurship". Bamba is committed to bringing the Silicon Valley start-up culture into Kenya in order to brew innovation and attract top talent in line with the country's vision 2030 and National ICT Masterplan 2017.

East Africa shines again

Kenya's startup ecosystem has received a significant amount of global attention of late. In early December 2015 a customer engagement platform Ongair announced it had unlocked funding to scale into Asia with its social media aggregation platform.

This month data company SuperFluid Labs successfully launched its brand to the Asia market. Founder Dr. Abdigani Diriye said while there are challenges in emerging markets, such as the need to truly understand how to operate and set-up in these markets (as well as regulation and sourcing skills) – there are significant opportunities for startup operations.

According Disrupt Africa's African Tech Startups Funding Report 2015, 125 tech startups raised funding last year in the amount of US$185,785,500.

The Report also indicated that investors favoured South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya, and the bulk of startups (36%) that raised funding were based in South Africa, 24% in Nigeria, and Kenya with 14.4% of deals. The three countries also attracted the highest amounts in terms of funding.

Kenyan startups were said to have brought home over US$47,365,000

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