In May 2022, the third cycle of the E4Impact Accelerator started in Nairobi, Kenya. Thanks to a funding from the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, 29 Kenyan companies are currently going through a one-year acceleration program, receiving several services to facilitate their growth, such as access to capital, business connections, training…

Among these services, for sure, the special connection with the E4Impact Business Development Team (BDA) is an innovation in the Accelerator portfolio. This team, created in October 2020 with the aim of building a bridge among Italian and African companies, has been in the last months involved in the Accelerator offer, providing the entrepreneurs with a professional business counselling service.

Between September and October, Maurizia Rota, Giorgio Sartori and Marco Locati, the members of the BDA, together with an intern from the Management faculty of Università Cattolica (Valerio Puoti), spent 2 weeks across Kenya to meet the Accelerator entrepreneurs face to face and to visit their companies and get in touch with their products or services.

The 29 companies are located in various counties of Kenya (12 in Nairobi, 11 in smaller towns and 8 in the rural areas) and cover many industries, precisely: Agriprocessing (12), Manufacturing (5), Fashion & Design (3), IT/Media (5), Green & Logistics (4). Some are well structured and recognized by certifications and awards, others are in a more initial phase. The team had to travel for over 3,500 kms to meet them all, and passed from modern offices in Nairobi, to tiny spaces in rural areas, but everywhere they went, they were welcomed by the entrepreneurs with an atmosphere of open collaboration. Our experts perceived the Alumni’s willingness to grow, to learn and to see what they can do to improve.

The meetings with the Kenyan companies aimed at establishing business relationships with Italian companies, if deemed suitable. So all the businesses were analysed and the team explored the possible benefits of a partnership with Italian companies.

To the BDA, this Kenyan trip was very useful to know and better understand the reality of each company, so to improve the remotely work they will be doing together for the one-year program. On the other end, for the companies, this was a moment of testing of their activities, but also an occasion to collect suggestion on possible improvements.

After returning from Kenya, the BDA team began finalizing a “business case” for each of the Accelerator companies visited. On the basis of what has emerged, it will be decided what kind of support to give to each company, regarding the possible business relationships with Italian companies.

(Marco Locati, Maurizia Rota, Giorgio Sartori)