pivot east
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June 19, 2019

PIVOT East, a startups competition is  geared towards nurturing the growing Startups and SMEs in East Africa. This year the competition opened for both hardware and software startups; this has influenced greatly the types of startups that we will see pitch during the conference this year. A number of startups in the manufacturing, agricultural value added products and health hardware startups just to mention a few. Most of them are leveraging  technology in sectors that conventionally were not considered tech savvy or embracing.

This year, we received 248 applications into the competition. 128 of them met the criteria and where submitted to a panel of 30 judges who to judge them and get the semifinalists shortlisted. This year also saw the first Semi finalist from Burundi and highest number of applicants we have had from Tanzania and Rwanda.  The finalists consist of 25 startups from across the region and 5 in the waiting list .

Here are the 2019 Finalists:

Finance Category:

TozzaPlus (Kenya)

TozzaPlus is a workforce management and payment system with mobile biometric Time Tracking, Payroll Management and automated salary payouts/payments to banks and mobile wallets. TozzaPlus plus also provides B2B salary financing to help enterprises pay their employees on time always.

SokoHela (Kenya)

SokoHela is an online short term working capital and financial literacy provider for micro and small enterprises in the urban agricultural value chain.

Engage & Prosper Africa (Kenya)

A Fintech startup that provides financial literacy to the bottom of the economic pyramid that is often left out by the conventional financial system.

A-Trader (Tanzania)

A-Trader is an AI-powered platform that enables users to access investment opportunities using any mobile device, and that also provides automated investment recommendations through a proprietary Robo-Advisor algorithm.


Mobishule is a Value Added Service proposition to parents of  partners’ schools that enables them to access small amounts of school fee cash advances using mobile.


Denkim Insurance (Kenya)

Denkim Insurance is a Kenyan insurance aggregator that interconnects all insurance players in the insurance value chain by helping customers select, buy insurance products and experience quick claim settlement processes.

Social Impact Category

Savanna Circuit Technologies Ltd (Kenya)

MaziwaPlus Pre-Chiller, pioneering portable Solar powered chilling on transit systems that can be mounted on motorbikes, trucks etc with a Milk collection app for efficiency, accountability and maximize profits to dairy producers and cooperatives by cutting Milk post harvest losses at the farm gate, enhancing product traceability and quality control.

Toolboksi (Tanzania)

Toolboksi is a platform that solves & unemployment and poverty by increasing the access to job opportunities to the skilled workers (Blue-collar workers, handymen, repairmen) operating in the informal sector by connecting them with customers using inclusive technologies (Web/SMS/Apps/Call/Short-code)

ECO MAKAA  (Kenya)

‘Eco Makaa’ is an e-commerce company that connects local fuel briquette producers to a client base. These fuel briquettes are smokeless eco-friendly alternatives to wood charcoal

Kilimofresh Foods Africa Limited(Tanzania)

Kilimo Fresh runs a B2B E-commerce produce distribution platform focused connecting farmers with customers on a B2B model. Kilimo aggregates, trades and market all types of foods, grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables significantly reducing post-harvest losses by cold storage.

AfyaKit (Kenya)

We are a social venture start-up, focused on improving health outcomes by providing actionable in-facility data to health sector players across Sub Saharan Africa. They have  analytics tool that enables decision making for health managers.


FreshBox Rwanda Ltd. (Rwanda)

FreshBox Rwanda is building modular, off-grid, solar powered, IoT equipped cold chain solutions to reduce post-harvest food loss in Rwanda and other developing nations. Our first product is an affordable cold room with a capacity of unto 5 Metric Ton. The cold room can extend the freshness of fruits and vegetables from 2 days to 21 days. It is designed and assembled in Rwanda.

Enterprise Category

FarmIT (Kenya)

FarmIT is an agricultural mobile based startup that uses crop mapping mobile technology to send real time and reliable agronomic, crop protection and husbandry practices to small scale horticultural farmers with an aim of improving

Kodisher Solutions (Kenya)

One stop solution for landlords and property managers for managing processes, transactions and data that improves efficiency and saves them money. Kodisher, manages billing, invoicing, payment processing and provides actionable reports.

Enfinite Solutions Limited (Kenya)

Through our portfolio of premium products – WakiliCMS and EliteSuite, we strive to make sure that law firms and legal departments are ran efficiently to minimize costs, increase profits and improve decision making criteria.

Mazimba Company Limited(Tanzania)

Using bananas to produce  wine as main product.

Vipimo (Kenya)

Vipimo is a ‘sensor as a service’ subscription service currently serving several large customers in the B2B space (large farms, freight forwarders).


Tetch Astro Systems (Kenya)

AVAS-360 is a cloud based fuel management system of hardware and software products that together enable access and remote control of fuel stores,whilst monitoring inventory, deliveries, staff performance and sales volumes.

Entertainment Category

Cloud9xp (Kenya)

Cloud9xp is an online marketplace, booking service and distributor for leisure experiences. We offer a simple way to discover and book leisure experiences to do across Africa.

Klurdy Solutions (Kenya)

Klurdy is a design studio with an interactive online service for buying personalized african fashion.

UG Tickets (Uganda)

UG Tickets is a secure, online platform designed to facilitate the selling, marketing, and distribution of tickets for the convenience of event organizers/vendors and the consumers making it  possible for people to browse through a variety of events in music, football, festivals, conferences and talk-shows online; from any place, make the payments using mobile money and receive the tickets directly on their mobiles via Email and SMS.

Pingle (Kenya)

Pingle is a platform that is connecting users to activities that interest them within Nairobi’s malls. Users on the Pingle platform can discover, book, and pay for these activities on the app.

Smoke Advertising (Kenya)

Specializes in both above and below the line advertising.

Waiting List;

Be Afrika Media Ltd (Kenya)

A personalised African content and social network aggregated and curated platform. A platform that aims to be a  lead in the sustainability of and reinvention of African content.

Utilities Category


Sheria Kiganjani is the first online legal digital platform in Tanzania which enable users to access various legal services remotely from  their devices i.e. Mobile Phones, Tablets, Computers etc.

iCare (Tanzania)

iCare is a first Tanzanian online retail shop that allow individuals, organizations and corporations to buy basic requirements like food, school equipments and hygiene essentials for charity donations. Also iCare enable individuals to celebrate special moments in their lives such as birthdays, graduations, promotions, anniversaries etc.. by giving back as charity donation.

AT HAUSE Limited(Uganda)

The startup thus provides a solution that uses insect and rot resistant 3ply bags to store produce for longer periods and enable the produce earn better. The producers are pulled together disaggregated farms to a smart value chain linked to wholesalers financed to purchase farmer’s stock. The wholesalers are connected to marketplaces available with large-scale agro buyers in Africa, Dubai and the Gulf Cooperation Council region.


Coinbox allows its users to own Coinboxes in different and diverse listed brands and save for their due holidays by sending whatever amount they are comfortably able to their Coinbox until they reach the required amount.

Calm Wildness (Kenya/ Rwanda)

Calm Wildness is a jewellery business that designs, makes and sells beaded jewellery for conservation. It designs and makes unique jewellery that tells conservation stories through its make like elephants earrings for elephant conservation. It also aims to include women near environmentally protected areas in its production and also expand to other aspects of fashion.


WeDeliver (Ethiopia)

WeDeliver is an on-demand delivery company with the objective of creating a centralized on-demand delivery platform through a mobile application. The platform will empower local businesses; empower low income earning communities and provide time saving services to end users by putting local business at the tip of their fingertips.

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Pivot East call for application for startups opened


March 13, 2019

PIVOT East, one of the most prestigious startup competitions and conferences is now open for entries through its PIVOT East Startups Community Network. The competition officially opens its application portal for entries on March 12th 2019 and will continue to accept applications until midnight EAT on April 13th 2019.

PIVOT East is organised by iHub . The competition aims to catalyse the growth of  East Africa startups, so as to amplify and consolidate the gains of East Africa’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.  The key objective for this year’s event is to ensure that we provide maximum opportunities for all stakeholders to engage before, during and after the competition. It is only through this open engagement that we can surface learnings, which will go into ensuring a more robust ecosystem.

Applications to compete in 2019 will be entered as detailed startup profiles which describe the customer pain, the solution, revenue streams, team composition and commitment, market traction, projections and milestones among other aspects.  The overall startup profile will be used by the competition judges who will be experienced entrepreneurs, investors, startup enablers and business coaches to score the potential of the startup to become a sustainable high growth enterprise.

The competition has five categories in both software and hardware which are;

  1. Finance – including digital or mobile payments, banking, insurance, cryptocurrencies, e-commerce etc.
  2. Enterprise – including ERP Systems, CRMs, Recruiting platforms, value chain management, marketing, production,  etc.
  3. Entertainment – including gaming, social networking, e-magazines, music, video, photography etc.
  4. Social Impact – including education, agriculture, health, governance, and other social development themes.
  5. Utilities – A catch-all category including applications for enhancing the usability and versatility of technology etc

Start-ups across the region that meet the requirement can start applying for the competition. Information on how to join, including eligibility criteria, is HERE. The finalists will receive training and coaching on how to pitch to potential partners, customers and investors, sales, digital marketing, legal and employee retention.

The deadline for submission of applications is on 13th April 2019. Applicants are encouraged to start building and curating their startup profiles early as they might need to research or source some of the information required widely.

We are also looking for investors and partners if you would like to know more about this read HERE

For more information visit Follow:

Email: [email protected]

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Deadline to Apply for PIVOT East 2015 Extended


May 1, 2015

m:lab East Africa has been receiving applications for its annual startup pitching competition and conference dubbed PIVOT East in the last one month – since April 1st. The deadline for submitting applications was set for yesterday April 30th. In response to a number of requests from potential applicants, the deadline for application submission has been extended by 2 weeks to Sunday 17th May at 11:59 pm EAT.
Applicants are advised to take advantage of the two weeks to better prepare their startups profiles and other critical information. Startups may join the competition through the PIVOT East Startups Community Network Information on how to join the competition including eligibility criteria may be found here
Important Notes for Applicants


  • Competition portal –
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  • Minimum number of team members is two (2)
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  • Tag startup entries in a maximum of two (2) competition categories
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  • Team composition and commitment is really important in this year’s competition. Ensure that all team members update their personal profiles on their key skills and also include a LinkedIn profile
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  • Self Evaluate your startup in the portal using the scorecards
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  • Selection criteria for PIVOT East can be found HERE
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  • Upload a pitch video maximum 5 minutes that demonstrates passion among founders/key employees to pursue the startup mission and a clear call to action on what the startup is pursuing at PIVOT East 2015 ( Basic video quality is accepted)
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  • Upload a demo video or screenshots that showcase key features of the solution

For more inquiry on how to apply for the competition, feel free to send an email at lincoln(at) or egra(at) or visit You can also follow us on twitter @PIVOTEast or like our facebook page

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A Glimpse of What Happened at PIVOT East 2014 – Urban TV Footage


July 11, 2014

On 24th – 25th June, PIVOT East, East Africa’s most prestigious startup pitching competition and conference went down at the Panari Hotel. The competition was hotly contested with the region’s 25 innovative mobile startups fight it out to win market recognition and investor interest for the fourth consecutive year. Five winners were selected, one from each  category by panels of  judges drawn from among angel investors and representatives from venture capital firms.
Below is footage recently aired on Urban TV featuring the PIVOT East proceedings

Proceedings at the conference were coordinated and moderated by Kenya’s renown media personalities. These were Citizen TV’s Terryane Chebet and Capital FM’s Eric Latiff. Apart from the nervous, anxious and high energy moments among competing teams, thought leaders explored key trends in East Africa’s Tech scene through fireside chats (panel discussions). The fireside chat discussion topics selected among many other possible themes were :-

Urban TV is a product of Vision Group – Uganda which was one of media partners for PIVOT East 2014. More coverage on urban and youthful culture in Uganda may be found on Urban TV’s youtube channel.

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Devs mentorship by

Incubation, Tech Trend, Workshops

January 31, 2014

A great idea can be built with almost any technology. They all have their pros/cons. No matter what stack you choose, you’ll pay a certain price for whatever advantages it offers. But really, the success or failure of your project has more to do with vision, leadership,execution, and market than technological choices – Matt Aimonetti.

Johann & Paul from giving a talk to developers

These were the opening words of Paul Schwarz from during a meetup dubbed Tech Trend that was held on 30th Jan at the m:lab. The meetup will be a monthly initiative that will focus on technology trends in the developer world and mentoring sessions for upcoming developers by incubated startups or established tech companies.

In the Tech Trend debut,  Johann & Paul were the guest speakers and they gave a general talk of their start-up from a technology point of view. This included testing tools, development language, framework, analytics tools amongst others. provides a secure accommodation marketplace connecting travellers looking for a cool place to stay, with hosts and their empty beds. It was launched in November 2012 and currently provides over 1,000 accommodation options in Kenya alone. The site has seen traffic grow to 50,000 unique visitors and 130,000 page views per month. They have had numerous successes including winning PIVOT EAST 2013 in the enterprise category. They are currently incubated at the m:lab.

Developers need to know alot of new stuff based on the technologies have incorporated in their development such as test driven development, virtual machines such as Vagrant,  deployment tools such as Capistrano amonst other technical details. Many questions were asked pertaining to Google analytics & Mixpanel analytic tools which are necessary in today’s development due to the need of studying consumer behaviour and measuring out site performance.


Developers at the Tech Trend talk at m:lab’s boardroom

Paul encouraged developers to develop their programming skills so as to be experts in their particular area of specialisation. He personally follows Uncle bob blog and gets involved in open source projects. He is also active in reporting bugs of whichever platforms he uses which have seen him grow immensely and gain other skills in the process.

Feeling a sense of having missed out! look out for February’s Tech Trend Talk.


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How can technology make learning more interactive in the classroom!

Education, Wireless Wednesday

November 25, 2013

We need to make learning interesting, interactive and relevant if we want the learners to participate and learn. How then can we use technology to make learning more interesting and interactive for the learners?

The m:lab will for the first time host Wireless Wednesday on edTech for students. The meetup will focus on students and their experience with technology in learning. Before the meetup, the students will be given devices to test the various education apps at the m:lab, then they can give feedback on the applications during the discussion as they also discuss the theme of the meetup. Students are invited to do this from 10.00 am.


Previous Wireless Wednesday Meetup on edTech

The meetup will attract students from across the country, both primary and secondary school students from private and public schools. The key discussants of the meetup will be students. Anyone interesting in attending the event is welcome but the students will be the ones running the show.

The meetup is themed: “How can technology make learning more interactive in the classroom”!

Date: 4th December 2013

Venue: m:lab East Africa (Bishop Magua Center opposite Uchumi Ngong Road)

Time: 12.00 – 2.00 pm

To attend the event kindly RSVP HERE. Parents feel free to register your kids for the event.

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Kopo Kopo secures $2.6 million in Series A Financing


November 22, 2013

Mobile Money in Kenya has come a long way. Since inception, it has grown exponentially increasing from sh166.5 billion ($1.9million) recorded transactions in 2008 to 1.5 trillion ($17.7 billion) in 2012, this is according to The Kenya London News article dated October 23rd 2013.


Kopo Kopo team at their office on 1st floor of Bishop Magua Centre

 Kopo Kopo, East Africa’s and perhaps the world’s first mobile money merchant acquirer, has raised $2.6 million in series A Financing. Kopo Kopo is hoping to use the new capital to hire top talent, expand its platform offering and accelerate global growth beyond East Africa with the goal of incorporating millions of merchants across the economic frontier into the formal financial system.

Kopo Kopo makes it easier for small businesses to accept mobile payments from customers and over time offering a number of value adding services. Kopo Kopo got an opportunity to be incubated at m:lab East Africa in July 2012. The company grew out of the incubation period within the first nine months of incubation moving to its newly acquired premises on the 1st floor of the same building (Bishop Magua Center) where they are currently located. Kopo Kopo started with a team of four, currently the firm has over 25 employees.


The Kopo Kopo team discussing human-centered design

 In 2012, Kopo Kopo became an official partner of Safaricom and began to extend its “Lipa na M-Pesa service to merchants across three Eastern African markets namely Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. With the reduction of charges for Lipa na M-Pesa, merchants can now enjoy using the mobile money platform to pay for goods or services at the exact value of the item sold or service rendered. With the mobile money spreading across East Africa and the whole world, Kopo Kopo is the company to watch out for.

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Should the Government give the role of Curriculum Development to the Private Sector?

Education, Wireless Wednesday

November 15, 2013

As learning is becoming more digitized in Kenya, its important to know how the stakeholders in the ecosystem can work together to make the edtech ecosystem grow. We identified key stakeholders in the edtech ecosystem as learners, policy makers, platform makers, publishers and teachers who set the tone for a great learning environment.

Learners who are both kids and grown ups play an important role in the ecosystem but tend to be ignored most of the times while coming up with innovations and also while making making decisions. Also when coming up with these new innovations some of the teachers feel left out because not all teachers are IT literate hence there is a big disconnect.

The government plays a big role in the edTech ecosystem because they are the policy makers.Policy sets the pace for everything. Some of the roles of the government in the ecosystem highlighted during the discussion include;


Participants during the edtech meetup

Curriculum development –  The government through its parastatal Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development conducts research and develops curriculum for all levels of education below the university. From the discussion it was suggested that the government should give the role of curriculum development to the private sector while they oversees and monitor the whole process. According to Njeri Wangari a publisher at East African Publishers, “If Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development is providing content and at the same time regulating the content, we run the risk of having substandard content being used by schools”

Policy making – Policy affects how everything runs in the edtech ecosystem. A good example, students are not allowed to use devices in the classroom hence most developers developing mobile innovations in education target the after school setting. The government should work on changing the policies to create an enabling environment for the edtech ecosystem.

Strengthen Public, Private Partnerships (PPP) – Public Private Partnership is really important because the government can not do everything on their own. The partnerships will ensure everyone plays a role in developing the ecosystem.

Quality control – The government sets the standards and enforces control in terms of what curriculum is to be used in schools, which are the examining bodies, what colleges are registered and on what basis. This ensures that we keep up the standards of our education system.

Content is an important aspect in education. Two very interesting questions came up during the discussion; is there right or wrong content? and should mobile developers be left to develop content?

According to Anne Salim from iHub Research, when it comes to content it depends on what you want the content to do for the learners, are you trying to solve illiteracy problem? are you trying to help them gain problem solving skills or creative thinking skills? depending on which category of learners you are targeting, it helps you to structure your content then determines how it is deployed in different devices.

Opportunities for entrepreneurs in the edtech ecosystem

There is a big opportunity for entrepreneurs in the edtech ecosystem provided you have the right content and the right business model. When it comes to content there is no shortcut, developers have to partner with publishers who will help with the content aspect as developers focus on the technical aspect. “Do not go for the big publishers because it is hard to get them, start with the small publishers and eventually you will get the attention of the big publishers” says Njeri

Business model is another important factor, it was noted that most developers in the edtech ecosystem use in app advertising and in-app purchase business model. According to Njeri Wangari, Parents hate advertisements in applications. Wangari also said that if you let the child run the bill for the parent in the case of in-app purchase you stand the risk of having the parent uninstall your application from the device.


Ken Mwenda Managing Director Emobilis interacting with a participant after the meetup

Way Forward

Public Private Partnership (PPP) is very important in the growth of the ecosystem. The Government should partner the with private sector where they delegate some of the roles and then they oversee or monitor the progress. Developers also should partner with content developers to come up with great innovations. There was an emphasis of the bottom up approach for developers when it comes to partnerships. Developers should first build a minimum viable product (MVP) that they can use to test it with the customers, this will help them start building a customer base which gives them traction. “Start small then build baby steps into the large ecosystem” says Jessica Colaco from iHub Research. Big partnerships at the initial stage for developers are kind of a waste according to John Kieti lead m:lab.

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What is the role of different stakeholders in the edTech ecosystem in Kenya?

Education, Wireless Wednesday

November 11, 2013

Even as the digital education revolution continues to spread across the country, concerns are being raised about the sustainability of projects like the laptop project and other mobile innovations in the education sector. What are the roles of different stakeholders in the edTech ecosystem in ensuring sustainability of the innovations in education? Join the discussion on “The role of stakeholders in the edTech Ecosystem in Kenya” that will be held at the m:lab on 13th November 2013 from 12.00 – 2.00pm.


Previous Wireless Wednesday Meetup

Some of the key discussants who will spearhead the discussion are;


  • Joseph M. Matara – Regional Director GrayMatters

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  • David Tole – Strategy and Content analyst Safaricom

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  • Thomas Brown – Investment Analyser GrayMatters

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  • Davinder Mdhur – Samsung

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  • Moses Sitati – Nokia

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  • Tony Hutia – Samsung
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  • Anuj Tanna – VAS Product Manager Orange

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  • Among others

You may find blog write up of the previous meetup here

RSVP HERE to attend. There will be a live twitter stream during the event, you can join the discussion using the hashtag #WirelessWednesday.

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Windows Phone 8 Developer Training – Applications for evening course open


November 5, 2013

Last month, m:lab East Africa  conducted a four-week training on windows phone application development, sponsored by Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative.  Following the success of the training, the mlab will conduct another similar training on Windows Phone 8 development from the 18th November – 12th December 2013 at the m:lab East Africa training facility.


The training is aimed at providing interested participants with knowledge on the key features and tools of the Windows Phone 8 platform. With the training, developers will be able to develop windows phone 8 applications to be published in the windows app store.

The training will be offered through evening classes to favour individuals with busy daytime schedules. Interested participants must, in their application, submit an idea of the app(s) that they intend to develop in the course of the training.

The application deadline for the Windows Phone 8 training is 13th November 2013.

Selected participants will be required to pay a refundable commitment fee of Ksh 3,000.

Interested participants may apply BELOW:

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