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Alibaba Founder Considering Investment In Kenya After Impressive Visit

By Peter Pedroncelli

Chinese e-commerce tycoon Jack Ma has been impressed with his two-day visit to Kenya, and the Alibaba founder admits that he will be considering making investments in the country. Asia’s richest man traveled to the country on his first visit to Africa, along with a delegation of China’s richest billionaires including internet tycoon Bob Xu, founder and chairman of Mengniu Dairy, Niu Gensheng, real estate tycoon Huang Youlong, and Alibaba founding partner Lucy Peng, according to ITNewsAfrica. Ma made numerous appearances during the two days, speaking with young entrepreneurs on a few occasions while also addressing hundreds of senior executives from the East African nation in a large ballroom at a five-star hotel.

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How this Kenyan company saw an opportunity to link small-scale farmers with banks


“Access to credit should be a basic right for everyone,” states 26-year-old Peris Bosire, co-founder of FarmDrive in Kenya. The problem we are addressing is the lack of access to finance for smallholder farmers from the formal financial ecosystem… They are left with a hole in their pocket because they just don’t have any access to working capital.” Bosire experienced this first hand growing up in a farming community in Kisii, situated in south-west Kenya. She watched her family battle day-to-day challenges such as poor yields and post-harvest losses. It was hard work, and many of their troubles could have been eased through quality farming inputs and modern equipment. But financial institutions were unwilling to provide them with the financing to do so, which left them in a catch-22 situation: they needed capital to help grow their farm beyond the subsistence level, yet banks would only provide loans to larger established commercial farmers with credit histories and collateral. This left them financially “stuck”.

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Pesika Odera, Winnie Ochieng and Doreen Okal, three Kenyan entrepreneurs creating a beautiful natural soap brand

Many entrepreneurs are driven not only by passion, but also a desire to make a difference, particularly when it comes to creating employment opportunities in local communities. In the case of the Kenyan natural soap manufacturing company, Wipedo Ltd, its three women founders are not only creating world class natural soap products, but also creating employment for others, extending the value chain of this unique and proudly Kenyan brand.

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Kenyan entrepreneur providing a digital alternative to textbooks


Kytabu – which comes from ‘kitabu’, the Swahili word for ‘book’ – is an innovative textbook content-leasing app for students. Learners can rent textbooks or specific curriculum material on their phone or tablet, and pay for it with mobile money. There is also a service for schools. “We have got a pretty cool D2C model where a customer can rent a page a day, a book a day, a chapter a day – or for an hour, a week or months. Whatever it is that works for you, based on how much money you have in your pockets,” remarked Kenyan tech entrepreneur Tonee Ndungu, the founder of Kytabu. Ndungu, along with two other entrepreneurs, was recently awarded the King Baudouin African Development Prize.

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