CfP - Entrepreneurship & Business Ecosystems in Kenya

Entrepreneurship and Business Ecosystems in Kenya


To be published beginning 2015/early 2016 –

Editors: Dr. Bitange Ndemo, University of Nairobi & Tim Weiss, Zeppelin University



With this call for chapters, the editors seek to enhance and invigorate the dialog surrounding business environments and entrepreneurship by creating awareness, a source of inspiration and a vision for what it means to become an entrepreneur in Kenya. This publication will allow an unprecedented insight into the dynamics of the most “hyped” ecosystem on the African continent. The editors aspire to establish this book as a central point of reference for Kenyans, Africans and beyond.

Kenya is seen as one of the most important gateways to other African markets. Comprehending the dynamics and peculiarities in Kenya’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) ecosystem is the first step in inspiring a series of publications in the African management and business literature. This volume lays the foundation for analyzing African business contexts, intra organizational processes and entrepreneurial ventures. 

The book will consist of two complementary parts – authors’ book chapters and entrepreneurial profiles. Contributions from scholars, practitioners and experts will constitute up to 15 chapters (6,000 to 8,000 words). The editors will interweave 10 profiles of ICT entrepreneurs as a special feature in between chapters. The profiles will provide rich contextual knowledge on why these individuals became entrepreneurs.

Objectives of the Book

We invite innovative, interesting, unconventional, relevant and counterintuitive chapter proposals that address theoretical and empirical aspects of entrepreneurship and Kenya's business environment.

For Academics: The editors are open to a variety of theoretical contributions in the realm of economic sociology, sociology of finance, sociology of culture, economic geography, strategic management and organization theory. Theoretical and empirical chapters should contextualize and foster the debate around entrepreneurship and business environments as well as advance theory development. Research efforts grounded in qualitative or quantitative data are encouraged.

For Practitioners: The book will greatly benefit from knowledge contributed from the midst of Kenya's business environment. We invite all stakeholders - entrepreneurs in all stages, (angle-) investors, industry experts, government officials, employees and corporate representatives just to mention - to draw up thoughtful chapter proposals. We are especially interested in chapters that lay out current developments, highlight their relevance for the tech ecosystem and offer practical solutions or recommendations for entrepreneurs, policy makers and the international community. Case studies, reviews and opinion pieces are welcome.

Suggested Themes

We encourage authors to generate thoughtful and well-structured chapter proposals that address relevant aspect of entrepreneurship and business environments. The editors invite chapter proposals (up to 1,000 words) on the themes that include, but are not limited to, the following:


1.    Evolution of Kenya’s tech ecosystem

Every ecosystem starts with a coevolution of different factors that brought it to where it is today. A depiction of how the ecosystem evolved, with emphasis on key events, will give a clearer picture on how the ecosystem became what it is today and a future outlook will give a glimpse into where it is heading. Important questions and topics can be:

  • What are the origins of Kenya’s tech movement and how will its future look like?
  • What is the influence and importance of the government (e.g. Kenya’s ICT authority) and corporate actors such as Safaricom, Google and Microsoft?
  • How has the tech ecosystem evolved over time?
  • Who are the key individuals that have shaped the ecosystem?
  • How have different cultural backgrounds (e.g. Indian-Kenyans, Kenyans, expats & repats) shaped the trajectory of the ecosystem?
  • How much are the developments in Nairobi’s tech ecosystem connected to developments in Kenya’s society?
  • What have been strategies and what can be future strategies to connect other Kenyan cities to the tech grid?
  • What are the crucial factors that hinder or promote the prosperity of Kenya’s business environment?
  • How do the following factors influence and shape the ecosystem?
    • Hubs, labs and co-working spaces
    • Events (e.g. hacker spaces, fireside chats and pitch nights)
    • Social media
    • Universities
    • The “hype”
    • International influence and attention (e.g. donors, international investors, corporations, expats and repats)
    • Linkage to other African countries and beyond
    • ICT for Development
    • Successful Exits

2.    Entrepreneurial Mindset and Business Ventures

The social, cultural and economic contex influences entrepreneurship. What are the pecular dynamics that shape Kenyan entrepreneurs and how is it different from other countries? This theme digs deeper into the forces that shape the Kenyan entrepreneurial mindset.

  • Perspectives from Kenyans and Internationals: What doest it mean to become and be an entrepreneur in Kenya?
  • What does it mean to be a women entrepreneur?
  • How relevant is the concept of social entrepreneurship to entrepreneurs in Kenya?
  • What are key characteristics of tech entrepreneurs in Kenya?
  • How is the entrepreneurial culture different from other countries?
  • What factors influence whether tech entrepreneurship becomes a legitimate carrer path?
  • How can hussling be beneficial to business activities?
  • What could be an ideal path to entrepreneurship for the generations to come?
  • What are best-practices and lessons learned on the way to becoming an entrepreneur?
  • What are best-practices to start a tech business (e.g. hardware, software or E-commerce)?
  • How do the following factors influence and shape entrepreneurship in Kenya?
    • Hussling
    • Networks
    • Human and Social Capital
    • Failure
    • Trust
    • Corruption
    • Security
    • Reputation and Status

3.    Kenyan Investors and International Investors

International investors and donors have a large influence on Kenya’s business environment. Yet, Kenyans cultivate a unique investment culture that influences how businesses are supported. Formal and informal saving and investment groups form the backbone for new investment opportunities. How can these two be brought together? What are successful strategies and how do different investors influence entrepreneurs?

  • What are the attributes of existing investment structures in Kenya? How do they influence entrepreneurship in Kenya?
  • What are chamas and SACCOS? How can they add value to tech entrepreneurs?
  • What are experiences and investment strategies of Kenyan and international angle investors?
  • How can early stage business leverage on the existing investment structures in Kenya? (e.g. High net worth individuals, Chamas and SACCOs)
  • How adequate are angle investors investment attitudes and investment strategies?
  • Best-practice, experience and recommendations from international investors
  • How central are hubs, incubators and accelerators to building the deal pipeline?
  • What are the challenges and possible solutions for incubators and accelerators?
  • How do grants & prize money influence the business environment? What are funder's experiences?
  • What are effective integration of grants & prizes into the existing investment landscape?
  • Who should invest in start-up entrepreneurs?

4.    Organizational Culture, Strategy Tools and Management Practices

The tech ecosystem is a unique melting pot. It comes along with global values and norms that blend in with local Kenyan values. This dynamic shapes the adaption and diffusion of practices and how business is done in the tech ecosystem. What works and what does not?

  • What are key characteristics of the organizational culture in Kenyan tech businesses?
  • How do organizational cultures in tech businesses differ from other industry sectors in Kenya?
  • What are challenges and experience in building an organizational culture?
  • What are tools and practices to build and cultivate a supportive organizational culture?
  • What leadership practices are relevant and important to managing a team in Kenya?
  • Can there be something like a Kenyan PayPal Mafia – Who can they be and what will happen when the first successful exit reaches the ecosystem?
  • What are best practices and experiences in
    • Building an an effective team
    • Building corporate identity
    • Creating employee commitment
    • Dealing with employee’s side hustles
    • Creating an organization’s vision and mission
    • Hiring the right employees
    • Drawing up effective Human Resource policies
    • Mixing Kenyan and Western management practices
    • Using strategy tools such as Business Model Canvas or Lean startup

5.    Entrepreneurial Profiles

Entrepreneur profiles (up to 5 pages each) shall provide rich contextual knowledge on why these individuals became entrepreneurs and shall be integrated into the 15 chapters in order to provide real life examples to the topics being discussed. Each profile should focus on a certain subtopic (such as trust, security, failure or how to build e-commerce businesses) beyond biographical elaborations.
The pool of entrepreneurs should reflect the actual diversity in the ICT ecosystem (Expats, Repats, Indian-Kenyans, Somali-Kenyans, Kenyans and women entrepreneurs). The following questions will be a guiding framework for the profiles and will help to create a real life understanding of entrepreneurship:

  • What are motivations, objectives, and incentives to become a tech entrepreneur in Kenya?
  • Why in ICT and not another sector?
  • What has been the experience of tech entrepreneurs in Kenya?
  • Who are their role models?
  • How did business ideas emerge? Which problems are tech entrepreneurs in Kenya addressing?
  • Which businesses are their benchmarks?
  • How do tech entrepreneurs in Kenya conceptualize their business model?

Submission Procedure

Submit proposals (up to 1,000 words) on or before January 31st, 2015, explaining the basis, highlighting the relevance and defining the approach of the proposed chapter. Also, include for each author a brief biography. Authors will be notified by February 28th, 2015, if their chapter has been accepted, and will at that time receive further information about the format and additional guidelines to follow in the preparation of the full chapter.

Submit proposals as either PDF or Word files on or contact: Bitange Ndemo [email protected]  and Tim Weiss [email protected]


Dec. 15th, 2014 till Jan. 31st, 2015     Open Call for Contribution

February 28th                                    Selection of chapters

April 15th                                           Authors submit 1st draft

May 15th                                                Review by industry expert and scholar

June 30th                                            Final submission

August 15th                                       Notification of acceptance

October 31st                                       Final editing

End of 2015/Early 2016                   Publishing


About the editors and authors

Dr. Bitange Ndemo is the immediate former Permanent Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communication.  Having completed his tenure with the Government, Dr. Ndemo now lectures on entrepreneurship and research methods at the University of Nairobi’s Business School.  Most of his research centers on the link between ICTs and small and medium enterprises in Kenya with an emphasis on how ICTs influence economic development in Kenya. Dr. Ndemo is credited with facilitating many ICT start-ups in Kenya and actively plays a key role in building sustainable models of innovation hubs in Kenya.  He is an advisor for I-Hub, the premier innovation hub in Africa.  He also sits on the Board of Research ICT Africa that is based in South Africa. Dr. Ndemo holds a PhD in Industrial Economics from the University of Sheffield in the UK and bachelor’s degree in Finance and Accounting from the University of Minnesota. He is the Honorary Chair of the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI).


Tim Weiss, MA is currently a research fellow and doctoral candidate at the department for Strategic Organization & Finance Zeppelin University (Germany) with several years work experience in Kenya and Ethiopia. He was a visiting PhD student at the Management and Organizations Department at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University (USA). His research focuses on the economic, cultural and social underpinnings governing the interaction between Kenyan technology entrepreneurs and international VC, PE, incubator and accelerator models. He engaged in an intensive grounded theory investigation of Kenya’s ICT ecosystem in summer 2014 with more than 160 interviews.

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