TUMI Challenge Kenya: C4DLab at University of Nairobi

TUMI Startup Accelerator

African Cities are booming. Their population is rapidly increasing rural-urban migration demand for better mobility services is growing by the hour. As a result, there has been an increase in the demand for public transport, private cars as well as digital mobility services. Shaping this transformation in a sustainable manner is key towards ensuring a prosperous african urban future. This provides an opportunity to provide transformative urban mobility solutions that can offer better more sustainable travel options, reduce travel time, cost and risk, as well as carbon emissions and other negative externalities. Through a public call for applications the startup accelarator accepted a cohort of 8 ambitious startups to tackle these challanges by building successful businesses in Nairobi. The program provided technical support to startups that work towards providing transformative solutions to urban mobility challenges. In adition to this the TUMI Startup Accelerator could built the sustainable mobility startup ecosystem by gaining support from CISCO, UBER, Safaricom, Shell Foundation and many more.

In short

Coaching and mentorship for eight startups to enhance market readiness & viability

Establishment of several new partnerships amongst startups and the private sector

Successful funding round which allows program to offer second cohort for the startup accelerator together with additional partners

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The Process

Selection of eight startups through a competitive application process

Diagnostic review of startups to identify strengths and growth opportunities

Coaching and mentorship for 8 startups in different areas of expertise (Tailored support for Marketing, Legal, Financial Management, etc.)

17 seminars on different topics for the startups which were also open for students to learn

High-level mid-term Pitching Workshop with stakeholders including transport industry players, potential investors, and government representatives

Providing unique opportunities for the startups to liaise with government officials on regulatory issues of mobility in April 2019, together with UN-HABITAT

Organizing the Urban Mobility Summit Nairobi 2019 final event where startup pitched their business ideas to alot of group of venture capitalists and government stakeholders


New partnerships amongst startups and the private sector (e.g. MyRide or ISUZU), and to the public sector (CODATU, AFD)

Increase of revenues for the startups (e.g. Ubabi’s revenues have increased substantially and governmental entities)

Improved communications between startups and government

Challenges and Learnings

During the course the accelarator and important set of lessons could be learned. In order to support the selected startups in the best way possible it is important that the startups are at similar stages of market readiness. Further, a key success indicator was initial operational readiness. The importance of highly deligent selection process cannot be understated. It is also important that the program clearly communicates requirements and offerings. The accelerator period should be expanded to cover a period of 12 months, with minimal business funding to allow for proper maturing of the selected companies.

Positive challenge: Most mobility concepts are based on initiatives by cities and not the private sector. This required further research and inquiry into how the private sector can be enabled to transform the urban mobility sector of cities.

Potential for Scaling & Replicability

Following the first phase of the Startup Accelerator, more stakeholders, especially from the private sector, showed interest in supporting the accelerator program. As a result, funding has been secured to conduct another round to support even more startups working in the field of sustainable mobility.

The new accelerator program, called Africa Mobility Initiative, will take the lessons learned into account, focusing on tailor-made digital learning solutions and also add startups from Uganda. There is noteworthy interest in expanding and/or replicating the Accelerator Program in other regions and with additional partners and donors. It is suggested to interlink with other programs and organizations supporting startups (e.g., MakeIT, SEED initiative, etc.) to expand the reach and impact on urban mobility.

  • Tonny Omwansa - TUMI Challenge Winner 2018

    Tonny Omwansa - TUMI Challenge Winner 2018

    "The TUMI Startups Accelerator launched to provide technical and financial support to startups that work towards provision of transformative solutions to urban mobility challenges. Our hope is to use this as a vehicle to create a set of sustainable, private sector led solutions to urban mobility challenges in Afrika."

    "TUMI is providing technical and financial support towards solving urban mobility challenges through a startup accelerator in Nairobi, Kenya - that's bold and innovative!"

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