Nairobi Innovation Week (NIW)
This is an annual innovation forum that was initiated by University of Nairobi that has now grown into a regional forum, attracting stakeholders from all stakeholders to recognize and energize the innovation efforts that have the potential to transform societies. The NIW was started in 2015 and will be running for the 4th time in 2018, between the 5th and 9th of March. The week brings together all stakeholders of the innovation ecosystem in the country, and in recent past has attracted delegates from a number of other countries. The forum now attracts over 3,000 delegates, hosts more than 30 side events and is recognized as a national event. At the heart of NIW is the discovery, elevation and support of startups.

In 2018, the theme is “Innovating for a Better Tomorrow!” and some of the sub-themes touch on Food Security and Safety, entrepreneurship and the youth which link to the AfDB High 5.

AfDB NIW High 5 Challenge
The Africa Development Bank (AfDB) and the Nairobi Innovation Week (NIW) have partnered to run a joint annual challenge that focuses on the Bank’s High 5 priorities; Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

Africa Development Bank has teamed up with the Nairobi Innovation Week to strengthen the participation of Startups from Eastern Africa during the Nairobi Innovation Week 2018 that will happen between 5th and 9th March. The support will be through a challenge inviting startups that are focusing on the banks High 5 priority areas: Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

The application period was between the 6th and 26th February, 2018. Startups from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia were invited to apply at

The goal of the AfDB High 5s Innovation Challenge is to discover, elevate and recognize five innovations, based on the five priority areas of the bank, that are (or have the potential to) catalyze social and/or economic change. In doing so, the competition aims to increase the visibility of innovations from the East Africa Region and also to promote the Bank’s High 5’s.

To qualify to the top 5, the innovators needs to submit an application that meets the following criteria:
A complete and eligible application
Demonstrate potential to scale and impact many people
Demonstrate evidence of having gained traction and the innovation being used
Have a clear business and operational model
Demonstrate evidence of sustainability
Demonstrate how their innovation addresses gender equality

Analysis of Applications Received

Ethiopa 8
Rwanda 12
Uganda 31
Tanzania 39
Kenya 168
Total 260


Applications with male Founders: 222, Female: 53.

Cofounders: Male: 143  Female: 70

Recognition and Elevation

The 5 winners, one per category of the High 5, will be announced on 28th February, 2018. These winners will be invited to participate by pitching at the NIW2018.  Further, the following incentives will be provided:

  • The travel costs to attend (a roundtrip economy class ticket and accommodation if coming from outside Kenya) will be covered.
  • An award of USD 1000 to support enhancement of the innovation.
  • A placard in recognition of the innovation.
  • Opportunity to exhibit the innovation at the NIW2018
  • Opportunity to pitch to an investor audience and also to interact with the Director General, East Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office, African Development Bank Group.
  • The top 50 applications will be featured in an AfDB-NIW Special Edition Innovation Journal that will be a compendium of promising innovations from the region and have their profiles displayed on the NIW.Startups, a platform for recognizing promising startups in the region.

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