I had a conversation with several start-up founders in our #YoungBold&Digital series, with conversation around their businesses, innovation and creativity. There is always that conversation that remains itching whether online or offline, about the start-up support ecosystem.
I have highlighted regulatory challenges here, but one of the issues that were mentioned by many founders is the support system, looking at the hubs and organizations that provide support to start-ups.
“When you look at the start-up ecosystem, you have government, corporate, then hubs but you find start-ups are at the bottom of the ecosystem,” one founder pointed out.
The sentiments were shared by some of the founders some on record and others off record. Some believe that hubs already have a ‘circle of their people’, if you are not part of it you will never get in.
“Everyone has their own problems, from start-ups to hubs, so, for example, if the government says it wants to allocate some amount for start-ups, because we are at the bottom, you may find that hubs will first solve their problems, so are other organizations, so what reaches the start-up is insignificant,” the founder explained.
Most hubs however provide much-needed support to start-ups, including mentorship and capacity building. Ng’winula Kingamkono, founder and CEO of Tunzaa, an upcoming fintech business, testifies to this:
“I have received a lot of training on design thinking,” he told me recently. “This really helped me in my current venture.”
Hubs have also served as crucial places for networking. Founders of Worknasi and MyHi, for example, all explained that workshops organized by hubs and incubators helped them build a team. They appreciated the training because, as they say, they did not have any expertise on the subject.
But founders also express their dissatisfaction with hubs and incubators’ support structure. Founders accuse hubs of doing only enough to produce donor reports which in most cases is not enough. “Nowadays, there are many workshops and forums but founders need capital, real money to build these ventures”, lamented one of the start-up’s founders.
To solve some of these issues, participants of this series have recommended donors and government, who are the biggest funders to shift on knowing the dollar value that has reached directly to Start-Up instead of just reports. For example, instead of saying Start-Ups were trained in understanding the legal environment, direct support should be given in helping them register and deliverables should be certificates and licenses.
You can watch the full interview and read articles in the series #YoungBoldDigital below: