In about 4 months, Kenya will have a new tech hub in Swahili Box. A place to bootstrap start-ups, work, share knowledge and create. Here technology, networking, business and art will thrive.
Swahili Box looks out to the Indian Ocean in the vicinity of Fort Jesus and Seacom’s landing point. An old building at the Swahili Cultural Centre will come to life as a result of the revolution brought about by Seacom undersea fiber cable.
Swahili Box is an M-Power project. A Community Based Organisation (CBO) with the aim of;
- Providing co-working Space with acceleration support
- Quickly spawning startups
- Providing training and mentorships
- Becoming a research center
- Acting as a creative hub for artists
This hub hopes to prove that technology can indeed thrive away from the center (Nairobi). Swahili Box will maintain the Swahili themed architecture, incorporate an outdoor working area and a rooftop. The hub will allocate 20 percent of the space to its community, 60 percent will be co-working space with the rest of the space remaining for Swahili Box’s use. Swahili Box could become the most exemplary tech hub in Africa, in terms of location and innovation.
From this tech-hub, entrepreneurs and innovators will have access to an affordable and accessible work space among like minds. According to Swahili Box’s Executive Director Ahmed Maawy, Swahili Box will put Mombasa on the technology map and change perceptions of the coastal city as a tech hotspot. It will become a place where start-ups have access to networks, tap into locally available talent in Mombasa and compete locally and globally. In addition, this space will provide access to training, support, professional mentoring and coaching.
Ahmed Maawy has a colorful history. He grew up in Mombasa before ending up in Nairobi where he worked with 3mice and Ushahidi. As one of the first green members of iHub, he imagined what it would be like if Mombasa had a thriving hub of its own. He returned to Mombasa and started building a tech community, gathering like minded people together. Now thanks to a £26,000 grant from the Indigo Trust, work on Mombasa’s own space has began and this will be a reality soon.
More support partners have come on board. Seacom is providing the hub with hyper-fast broadband for the first year while others like iHub, Camara, Angani are providing support in various ways. It is just a matter of time before Swahili Box puts Mombasa on the map as a technology hub.
Once Swahili Box opens, the community will be the drivers, spearheading initiatives and using the hub as a launchpad. Community adoption and involvement will be important in making Swahili Box a success. Once the community takes ownership of the hub, they will utilize and grow it.
“We intend to be part of the Silicon Savannah”, Ahmed Maawy closes with a determined look.