Over the last few weeks I’ve been helping out a group of technologists in Kisumu who are interested in starting a new tech-hub. There are a number of such hubs in Nairobi; the most famous is the iHub, which provides a space for developers to work and connect with businesses that need their skills. Kisumu is actually a pretty sizable place, and when one considers the universities in the area – like Maseno and Masinde Muliro – it’s a bit surprising that there isn’t more happening on the technological front.
Thus comes the LakeHub concept.
The plan is to create spaces to encourage the technological sector in Western Kenya by helping local techies build up relevant skills, encouraging local businesses to make better use of technology, and connect those same businesses with the tech people for envisioning and implementing new business ideas. It’s been a really great opportunity to put my community organizing skills to good use in the local context; the on-the-ground work has felt eerily similar to work on building (and saving!) cooperative housing spaces back in Davis, California.
As an educator, I’m hopeful that such a space will help change university students’ expectations as to what they are learning in their degree programs, and to provide better opportunities and outcomes for those that passionately engage in the sciences.
The plan in the short term is to hold a sequence of events, maybe every other week, to accomplish a number of objectives:
- Identify the local tech community,
- Create spaces for sharing skills and collaborative work,
- Engage businesses in technology,
- Build momentum around the LakeHub idea, and
- Demonstrate that the core group is committed and capable of encouraging awesomeness.
In the longer run, the events will provide a good way to engage with potential funders and build up steam around the possibility of a permanent space.
The first LakeHub event is scheduled for next Saturday, May 4th, from 9am to 1pm. It will be structured as a workshop, to bring in the local techies. The second event, which we expect will be two or three weeks later, will be centered on identifying business ideas and bringing in the business community generally. It will be exciting to see how this Saturday goes!