Six East African startups from the Nailab, Kenyan accelerator


Nailab is a Kenyan accelerator that focuses on accelerating early stage startups which can compete on a global scale from Africa. The accelerator was launched in 2011 in partnership with the 1%CLUB. Nailab has an ambitious goal of changing Kenya, one startup at a time with entrepreneurship program that spans three to six months.

With focal point of growing innovative technology-driven ideas, in the past three years Nailab has incubated 30 startups focusing on early stage startups which are likely to have large social and economic impact and have a potential to be highly scalable.

YourStory has chosen to showcase six of accelerated startups here and the new mobile crowdfunding platform Babandu from Nailab.

CladLight : Aims to improving lives through wearable tech, a smart jacket for bike riders set to decrease road accidents. This startup is founded by Muchene brothers, Charles and Joseph. Their first product is the Smart Jacket that will reduce number of motorcycle related accidents due to poor visibility at night. WHO statistics says 3000-13000 pedestrians, bikers and cyclists die in traffic accident. The CladLight smart jacket is created by adding flash lights on reflector jackets. The jacket is connected wirelessly to an on board transmitter mounted on the motorbike in a way when the driver is turning left or right the Smart Jacket lights according to the turn. The jacket is equipped with transmitters and a rechargeable battery. The components design has been improved to allow ease of use even when an operator is riding the motorbike.

KejaHunt is an online rentals listing platform to help people find roommates. Founded by Kelvin Githuka Kihiu, Piero Muguna Mbaabu and Joshua Mutua Nzuki, this startup aims to help Nairobi’s middle and low income earners, who the founders say, have been neglected by other property listing platforms. They aim to list property going for as low as $40 (Ksh.5,000) and let home seekers pick homes of their preference.

The property-listing platform uses geo-location technology to help home seekers get a house to settle in and get the landlords a tenant to fill their vacant houses.


SokoText is a startup that is aiming to solve the problems of small vegetable sellers. Founded by Suraj Gudka, Sofia Zab, Carolina Medina, Verena Liedgens and Jonah Brotman, SokoText is a social enterprise that operates in the slums of Nairobi. The startup works with small vegetable vendors who supply majority of the fresh food that is consumed by residents. SokoText makes the system more efficient using pre-order, aggregation and distribution based SMS system, so that the vegetable vendors don’t have to spend a lot of time and money daily to get their stocks. Low income earning families save 20% on food via SokoText, that is one extra meal a day. Soko Text will also save veggie vendors about $ 20 (2,400 Kes) on transport and 45 hours per month.


GoKibali is one-stop shop for all Permit and License Application related issues in Kenya. The startup was founded by Joseph Mureithi, Kariuki Mburu, Stephen and Reriani. Using the online platform users can register and apply for any permit from the comfort of their home. When the application is received by the sub county, users will get notification via SMS and email.

GoKibali informs the users of the progress of their application. When an issue arises that needs the attention of the users, they can respond on the platform. GoKibali makes applying for a license or permit from the government less energy draining, time consuming, and also helps users avoid the long queues, not to mention the chance of being sent home for more documents, requiring applicants to begin the process all over again.


SwapKitabu is a mobile-based marketplace for exchanging academic books. Founded by Steve Nguru this startup provides a solution by connecting those who want to sell their books with those who are looking for books. After a users logs in to SwapKitabu’s platform he/she has to specify the author name and the name of the book they like to get along with their location. On the other end, a user uploads data of the book they have. When specified item is available, SwapKitabu then will link the buyer to seller. It’s just like eBay aimed at helping ease the acquisition of reading material for the low income families.

Gigwapi is an event discovery and listing site connecting event goers and event organizers. Gigwapi makes it easy for users to connect with the type of events they like. The events are grouped in dates and types which make it easy for users to discover events. Whatever a users is looking for, from social events, outdoor events, night life, performing arts and Karaoke, movies to corporate events. It is all there in one site. GigWapi also serves as an online social guide to fun, events and tickets.


Besides accelerating startups Nailab is trying to hack African funding issues with African crowdfunding, in a way that will appealing to the larger audience — enabling regular citizens to directly vote with their wallets for the startups they want to see in Africa.

Babandu - the crowdfunding platform

Harambee means ‘all pull together’ in Swahili. It’s a Kenyan tradition of community self-help events, e.g. fundraising or development activities. Building up on harambee spirit to maximize the African communal fundraising, last week the NAILAB launched a new startup crowdfunding platform, Babandu, to support startups in Kenya have access to capital. This is very good for founders as the crowdfunding helps startups get additional capital without losing their equity as oppose to obtaining money through venture capitalists.





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