Close the Gap & Arrow: Silicon Savannah Tour to Nairobi and Mombasa

Posted on Oct 7, 2019 7:14 AM by

From 1 to 4 October, Close the Gap organised a strategic partner mission with an executive delegation from the Arrow headquarters in the United States. This 4-day "Silicon Savannah Tour & Arrow Digitruck" mission took the participants to the thriving cities of Nairobi and Mombasa.

Arrow Electronics Inc. and Close the Gap have joined forces to organize this truly unique mission to one of the most entrepreneurial countries in Africa, with a start-up scene that attracts developers and investors from all over the world. As a long-standing partner of Close the Gap, the Arrow delegation will discover the Digitruck sponsored by their company, as well as the most recent activities of Close the Gap in Kenya. 

On Monday, the group arrived in Nairobi. The first visits were planned on the next day. After breakfast, the group went to the Microsoft Kenya offices to discover the tech landscape in Kenya. They also attended an interesting session on how to do business in Kenya and Africa, where they learned about the pitfalls and opportunities that accompany enterprising in this continent.

In the afternoon, the group visited Gearbox Makerspace. Many of Kenya’s greatest challenges require hardware-based solutions, but building hardware locally is very difficult. Kenya’s designers, engineers, and entrepreneurs need affordable access to quality tools and an on-ramp to manufacturing. This is provided by Gearbox.  

On Wednesday, the Arrow delegation had a very inspiring morning at Andela. Andela was founded in 2014 to build a network of technology leaders on the African continent and bridge the divide between the U.S and African tech sectors. Leveraging a proven, data-driven approach, they aim to build high-performing engineering teams with Africa’s top developers to help companies overcome the tech talent shortage and build better products, faster. In the afternoon, the group visited the UN headquarters in Nairobi. Afterwards, they boarded a flight to Mombasa, Kenya's leading port city and home of Close the Gap's brand new Innovation Hub.

On 3rd October, the group had the pleasure to attend the "soft launch" of our Innovation Hub, located in a renowned shopping mall, Ratna Square. This was followed by a discovery of the Arrow sponsored Digitruck, that has been touring through Kenya these past few months to give people access and opportunities to develop their digital skills and inform them on sustainable e-waste practices.

In the afternoon, the participants of the mission attended the kick-off event of the Leap² Innovative Light & Circular Economy Innovation Challenge. This launch event took place in our very own Close the Gap Innovation Hub in Mombasa. 10 young start-ups and tech entrepreneurs pitched their ideas.

The launch event was equally the start of the crowdfunding campaign. In a few weeks time, the winner will be announced during a pitch competition at the closing event. To read more about this kick-off event, click here.

On Friday morning, the American delegation again traveled to the airport to board a flight back to Nairobi, Kenya's capital city. On this day, the group visited Close the Gap's Circular Economy Hub, where computer material is refurbished and prepared to support impact-driven projects with IT material.

This visit was accompanied by His Excellency the Belgian Ambassador Nicolas Nihon & his deputy Mr. Ivan Feys and the American deputy. On the same compound, they also paid a visit to the WEEE Centre, where e-waste is sustainably recycled, and to Computers for Schools Kenya, a long-standing service partner of Close the Gap.

In the afternoon, participants could enjoy a light leisure programme consisting of a mini-safari in Nairobi National Park. After trying to spot the 'Big Five', the group enjoyed their final dinner before leaving for the United States again the next day.