An open space for the technologists, investors, tech companies and hackers in Nairobi.
iHub is an Innovation hub and hacker space for the technology community in Nairobi that was started in March 2010 by Erik Hersman a blogger, TED fellow and entrepreneur. This coworking space, in the Bishop Magua Centre on Ngong Road, is a nexus for technologists, investors, young entrepreneurs, designers, researchers and programmers.
iHub was a pioneering incubator in Africa, but in 2014 was one of many technology hubs across the continent, with a dozen in Nairobi in 2015, and NaiLab operating within the same building.
iHub provides a space where young entrepreneurial members can receive mentorship, Internet connectivity and the possibility of venture funding through connections with the international venture capital community. iHub has been called the "unofficial headquarters of Kenya's tech movement".
iHub has a number of initiatives designed to build an ecosystem around the Kenyan tech entrepreneur: iHub Research, iHub Consulting, iHub Supercomputing Cluster, and the iHub User Experience (UX) Lab.
The space is a tech community facility with a focus on young entrepreneurs, web and mobile phone programmers, designers and researchers. It is part open community workspace (co-working), part vector for investors and venture capitalists, and part incubator.
The space was funded by Omidyar Network and Hivos. The lease is covered by Ushahidi and the 20 mb Internet connection is covered by Zuku. Wazi WiFi has also installed free Wi-Fi. Current partners include Intel and Microsoft.
iHub is located on the 4th floor of Bishop Magua Centre, on the corner of Ngong Road and George Padmore Lane, Nairobi, in the Upper Hill/Kilimani area. It is in the same building as another tech incubator, NaiLab.
iHub is trying various sustainability models, some of which double up as community initiatives. Current sources of revenue (outside of funding) are:
iHub charges for some of the events that are held in the facility.
iHub started a research arm in March 2011.
MLab East Africa
MLab East Africa (stylised as m:lab), is an initiative that "aims to foster innovation and entrepreneurship within the Kenyan community, with a focus on Web and mobile services." It is not revenue generating for the iHub. It is a is a consortium of four organizations (eMobilis, World Wide Web Foundation, University of Nairobi, and iHub). It has had input from the World Bank Group's infoDev program, under its Digital Entrepreneurship Program that is "scaling Mobile Application Labs (mLabs) ... in Kenya, South Africa, and Senegal".
Consulting is an arm built to both improve the skill set within the community and generate revenue for iHub.
iHub UX Lab
The iHub UX lab is the first open user experience lab in Sub-Saharan Africa. The UX lab has a mission to develop a user-centered design culture in Africa by helping the local community learn human centered design methods that put the user at the centre of product development. As it stands, most solutions are still built with a tech-centric approach and therefore do not fully understand and design for the users' needs and context. Inevitably, most of these solutions therefore fail to meet the needs of the user and therefore have minimal or no adoption.
Services offered at iHub UX lab
- Training on human-centered design methods
- A usability testing lab with a sound proofed testing space and observation environment to test products with users
- User experience research
- Design thinking and ideation (for groups trying to use creative thinking to develop new ideas and products)
The organisation believes that Africans have the intelligence and drive to solve their own problems, and that their job is to help start-up, corporates, social entrepreneurs and development organisations design smarter, contextualised solutions that have relevance and ownership with their users.
It developed and executed Tajriba, the first user experience month in Africa. During the month, it involved user centered design experts who helped with workshops for the local community (university students, start-ups, designers, developers, etc.)
Building Africa's second high-performance computing cluster.
Events held at iHub
- Mobile Monday
- Random Hacks of Kindness (RHOK)
- Water Hackathon
- AfricaHackOn InfoSec Conference, 2015
- Zuckerman, Ethan (26 November 2012). "Ethan Zuckerman: 'Africa's hackers are today's world-class tech innovators'". Wired (website). Retrieved 6 December 2015.
- "IBM Expands Reach to African Entrepreneurs with Innovation Space @ iHub". PR Newswire. 25 July 2015. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
- Goel, Vindu (26 July 2015). "Facebook and Other Tech Giants Expand Internet Access in Africa". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
- Anderson, Mark (5 January 2015). "Kenya's tech entrepreneurs shun Konza 'silicon savannah'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
- Espinoza, Javier (29 April 2014). "African Tech Hubs and Funds Hope to Bridge the Digital Divide". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
- Analo, Trevor (2 September 2015). "Is Nairobi no longer the innovation hub of Africa?". The EastAfrican. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
- Kinyanjui, Kui (21 July 2011). "Ihub Techies Roll the Dice As Venture Capitalists Place Bets on Inventions". Retrieved 23 October 2011.
- Henry, Zoe (18 August 2015). "Nairobi Used to Be a Terrible Place to Do Business. How Did It Transform Into a Tech Hub?". Slate (magazine). Retrieved 6 December 2015.
- Steadman, Ian (25 January 2013). "Kenya breaks ground on its 'Silicon Savannah' city project'". Wired (website). Retrieved 6 December 2015.
- "iHub website". iHub website. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
- "Digital Entrepreneurship" infoDev. Accessed 20 November 2016
- http://www.ihub.co.ke/tajriba www.ihub.co.ke/tajriba
- Angela Crandall (1 July 2011). "*iHub Blog Post". iHub Blog. Retrieved 1 July 2011.
- Mutwiri Mutota (30 September 2011). "Vint Cerf at ihub: Internet Oldies meeting young techies". CIO magazine. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
- Official website
- The iHub in Nairobi is here
- iHub in Nairobi, one year later
- Next Billion, best ideas of 2010