Best Projects 2019 features all the nominated entries submitted ‘Submit your Project’ category. All the entries consist of innovative projects run by existing enterprises in the form of businesses, NGOs or informal programs.
Explain your project in details:
Funtrench is on a mission to get emerging technology out of the classroom and into the market in Africa. We recognize that Africa is playing catch-up in data science (blockchain and artificial intelligence) and extended reality (virtual reality and gaming). The first is crucial for the future of information while the second is critical for the future of interaction. Our business involves training post-secondary school learners and professionals in these technologies through certificate courses and workshops that we run in partnership with various educational institutions. Once students have been taken through quality training coupled tightly with product development in these areas, we lead learners into product-focused incubation, internships and employment within our network of partnerships. One of the innovative ways we deploy our learning is that our trainers are themselves involved in design and development of our products. This means we are able to teach up-to-date skills and new market developments, which is crucial in emerging technology where changes happen rapidly and content is quickly obsolete. Our solutions also provide actual industry examples for students. Funtrench is also involved in technology transfer via an internship program where students from Ivy League universities are given 3-month internships with us where they can interact with students and help update content. This way we remain at the cutting edge of emerging technologies.
Impact of your enterprise on sustainable development
Funtrench has thus far officially partnered with Oshwal College and AkiraChix Association, and worked together with other parties to deliver workshops and courses to over 400 students so far. Our participation in various events related to emerging technologies have enabled us to reach thousands more with information. We are a 2019 Economy Finalist in the Katerva Awards program for our work. At Funtrench we are focused on technology adoption so we believe the best metric is the number of unique technology products under development or in the market as a result of our training. So far we have at least 4 separate solutions that are under development, and over 10 game concepts that our students have come up with in class.
Sustainability and future plans
Funtrench gets about 60% of revenue from fees paid by students for training, while 40% comes from solutions development for various clients. Of the training revenue, 70% is from training at partner institutions while 30% is training at our own facilities. We are working on having at least 30% of the training online by July 2019. We currently do not have a major investment in Funtrench, so we are bootstrapping as these conversations occur. Our plans for growth include expanding our team, doing more marketing and activations and partnering with a number of local universities. This will improve reach and revenue. We are also working to establish Eden3D Labs which will be a game studio dedicated to development and publishing of African games by our students and alumni. We're looking for external funding for this. We are three months away from reliable profitability, and we intend to have an annual revenue of 500,000 US$ by end of 2020 with margins at 50 - 60%.
Your profile as an entrepreneur
I am 32 years old, born and raised in Nairobi Kenya in a middle-class family. I've studied Electronics and Computer Engineering in JKUAT University during which time I was able to develop Eden3D, a game development framework based on the open source Panda3D project. I was also able to do the software work for an electronic voting system that was presented to the then president of Kenya Mwai Kibaki. After campus I worked with iHub Nairobi together with others on a series of robotics bootcamps that included participation in the NASA SpacaApps challenge as a judge. I've been an entrepreneur right from campus, with involvement in a startup called Kuza Automotive as drivetrain engineer. Kuza was a finalist at the 2017 Echoing Green Global Fellowship and at the 2016 Royal Academy of Engineering Africa Prize. I've also been involved with Intellect Alliance as a co-founder. And most recently I am the founder of Funtrench Limited. I believe that my work in entrepreneurship in this region has helped me cultivate the perseverance and patience necessary to operate for long periods without significant investment.