Online business portal Koobe was named the winner of a demo day held at the end of the first Spark incubation programme in Somalia, walking away with US$2,500 in prize money.
Disrupt Africa reported in April Dutch non-governmental organisation (NGO) Spark and partners had launched the Africa House business incubator and entrepreneurship development centre in Gargeisa, Somalia, the first such project in the Somali regions.
The new Spark incubator is aimed at developing entrepreneurship through training, mentoring, and access to in-house services such as secretarial, administrative and office space.
It has now completed its first programme, which ran from June until November and comprised of training sessions on financial planning, product design, and investor pitching. At its demo day, attended by over 100 people, Koobe was named the winner and awarded US$2,500.
Koobe, developed by SomaliSpace.com, is a portal that allows users to get access to goods and services, book taxis, and rent apartments. It aims to become the one-stop shop for those looking for things to buy, businesses and events in the Somali region.
The other startups taking part were e-commerce platform Murad Kob, software developers SomDev App, chat app Anfac Software, and school management platform NGU.
Incubator co-founder Abdigani Diriye said he had been involved in the startup space in the Somali regions for the past few years and had seen the quality, technical ability and market awareness of Somali startups improve markedly.
“The programme has been intensive, and during the course of the programme they gained a deeper understanding of business and financial planning, product design, market analysis, and how to present and position your startup to potential investors and partners,” Diriye said.
“A number of the products the startups have developed I believe have great utility in the Somali market. Going forward, this nascent tech community will get stronger, and I fully expect them to be competitive on a regional and continental scale in the next 5-10 years.”
He said the incubator would continue to work with all the startups involved in the programme to catalyse business opportunities, make introductions to potential investors and partners, provide office space, and in some cases, invest.
The programme was well received, and Diriye said it will be an annual fixture.
“Moreover, we will be expanding the programme and taking in a larger batch in next year’s incubator. The programme will be significantly bigger and will have stronger links with the private sector and universities to expand its impact and reach,” he said.
“But, more than that, outside of the incubation programme, we will be engaging further with other members of the ecosystem such as investors, and the private and public sector to help accelerate the growth of the tech space in the Somali regions.”