The Lagos-based Co-Creation Hub (CcHub) has acquired Kenya’s iHub for an undisclosed fee to form a pan-African entity focused on accelerating the growth of tech innovation and entrepreneurship.
Launched in 2011, CcHub is one of Africa’s premier tech innovation centres, having built a vibrant community of over 14,000 people and incubated and provided support to a portfolio of over 120 early-stage ventures, including Lifebank, Riby, BudgIT and WeCyclers.
The iHub, meanwhile, launched in 2010, and is home to internationally-recognised companies such as BRCK and Ushahidi, as well as startups likes Eneza Education, Taimba and Optimetriks.
Two of Africa’s leading tech hubs have now united as a result of this acquisition, a deal that will see iHub’s team become part of CcHub’s wider central support and strategy network while the hub itself retains its name and senior management structure. CcHub’s co-founder Bosun Tijani continues as CEO across both locations.
As part of the acquisition, CcHub will now make key hires in innovation consulting, people management, programme management and community support, as it looks to strengthen its pan-African network and mobilise its far-reaching resources, network and relationships to accelerate the growth of technology innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa.
Though both seen as pioneers of the local tech scenes within their respective nations, the two hubs seem to have taken divergent paths in recent years. While CcHub has an active partnership with Google, is making direct investments in startups, and recently launched a Rwandan hub, iHub has been less active since raising a small amount of funding in 2016 in order to commercialise.
Nonetheless, in a statement CcHub still described iHub as East Africa’s most prolific and reputable technology centre, and said its acquisition was the next step for CcHub as it continued its mission to connect entrepreneurs, technologists and public bodies across the continent.
Tijani said CcHub had been a long-time admirer and collaborator of iHub, which he said was a world-class community of developers, entrepreneurs and business people that had been instrumental in growing Kenya’s extraordinary technology ecosystem.
“CcHub’s mandate is to build a formidable innovation ecosystem with a deeply rooted network, cultivating strategic partnerships and practical industry know-how that can support entrepreneurs in building thoughtful, relevant and scalable solutions. We believe we can only do this if we are intentional and proactive in how we scale and grow our reach, not only across Africa, but also internationally. This is the reason behind our acquisition of iHub and we continue to be bullish in our combined efforts in creating hundreds of thousands more opportunities for businesses across Africa,” he said.
Nekesa Were, managing director for iHub, said the hub had been a catalyst for regional tech acceleration and a role model for innovation hubs across emerging markets.
“To date, over US$40 million has been raised by iHub startups in early and growth stage financing and iHub portfolio businesses have contributed over 40,000 jobs to the East African economy. Their products have impacted millions,” she said.
“CcHub has an unrivalled track record of building out a dynamic tech ecosystem which extends past Nigeria. Similar to us, they have been committed to delivering impactful support services, at scale, supporting tech and business communities and driving social capital for economic prosperity in Africa. In short – they share our mission to make businesses and the business environment on the continent, better for all. We are very excited to work with them to support entrepreneurs transforming our communities”
iHub founder Erik Hersman said he and Tijani had known each other since the beginnings of the tech hub explosion across Africa, and that the two hubs had a good relationship.
“A decade later, it’s exciting to see the evolution of the space, and to have two of the largest and most impactful hubs consolidate and provide an even larger target for the tech communities they represent, as well as the businesses, investors and media who work so closely inside the ecosystem,” he said.