As an important aspect of public health, sexual education is something that should be addressed by all societies, particularly in rapidly developing nations such as the Republic of Kenya. At the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, software developers have created SophieBot, a mobile app that is being described as the Apple Siri or Microsoft Cortana of sexual information. Essentially, SophieBot is an advanced interface that serves up digital information about healthy sexual practices; the data retrieval is conducted anonymously and in a friendly manner that eschews the taboo of talking about sex in Kenya.
SophieBot is the latest tech startup enjoying the financial support of the Nailab Seed Fund, an angel investment firm co-founded by the Interchurch Organisation for Development Cooperation, a Netherlands-based NGO better known as ICCO-Cooperation. The Nailab Fund follows an investment model that is focused on East African tech startups. Other than SophieBot, Nailab has placed a few other startups in its investment incubator. Some notable companies include KejaHunt, a corporate relocation agency, and Mboch, a company that offers cleaning services while empowering Kenyan women who labor in the informal employment sector.
The Investment Focus of the Nailab Seed Fund
The Nailab investment proposal is simple: $24,000 in a convertible note that matures after 24 months plus another six months provided as a grace period. The criteria to be met by startup hopefuls include: innovation, capacity for expansion, entrepreneurial spirit, and the ability to provide a socioeconomic advantage. Nailab is not limited to seed funding; the firm offers a six-month incubation program of business and product development for promising startups as well as a fast-track program designed to address specific challenges at the community or societal level.
In the 21st century, tech developers in Kenya have been producing very successful systems, programs and apps to advance personal finance, farming and small business. The landmark development in this regard is M-Pesa, the mobile payments system that has been adopted in other nations across Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. It is easy to assume that the Nailab Seed Fund is looking for the next M-Pesa; in fact, any venture capital or angel investment firm would be interested in funding such a successful and groundbreaking startup. This is exactly what Kenya and other African nations need: investment firms that are willing to take a chance on tech startups that have the potential to create a positive social impact.