Esther Mwikali, an investment and project manager in Kenya with a degree in Economics and Finance from Kenyatta University, is highly experienced in Kenya's startup ecosystem. At Renew Capital, she uses her expertise to oversee investment opportunities. Discover more about Mwikali's journey to impact investing and Kenya's entrepreneurial scene.
Diving into Kenya's Startup Ecosystem with Esther Mwikali
By Renew Capital Marketing and Communications Team | Tue Jul 04 2023
Meet Mwikali Muia, a mover and shaker in the startup scene of Kenya. As part of the power team at Renew Capital, she's turned her passion for helping young businesses into a thriving career in impact investing. Join us as Mwikali gives us an insider’s perspective of Kenya's bustling startups and exciting growth sectors.
Q: What initially sparked your interest in impact investing?
A: I had my eureka moment back in 2017 when I joined Meta. As Head of Community, and later as General Manager, I saw first-hand the tough road startups had to walk to connect with investors. That really stoked my curiosity and nudged me toward the investment side of things. I plunged headfirst into books and conversations with seasoned investors to build my knowledge from the ground up. Eventually, I joined Renew Capital, a company dedicated to investing in African companies and supporting their growth. Renew Capital's approach of walking alongside startups and providing genuine support resonated with me. I believe in the impact and potential of these companies, and Renew Capital aligns perfectly with my passion for supporting firms through investments.
Q: What is one key aspect or unique characteristic that you believe people should know about when it comes to impact investing in Kenya?
A: When it comes to impact investing in Kenya, it's crucial to recognize the country's vibrant and resilient entrepreneurial spirit. Kenyans have a strong determination and a "hustler" mindset, willing to work hard, pivot, and overcome challenges. The people of Kenya embrace innovation and possess a curiosity that drives them to explore new ideas and technologies, leading to the success of startups in sectors like fintech, healthcare, and agriculture. A great example of this is the growth of MPESA. Kenya also has a strong sense of community and trust, which plays a significant role in the investment and startup scene. Collaboration and support are fundamental, with entrepreneurs relying on their networks, family, and friends for initial capital. Moreover, Kenya's commitment to education and continuous learning, along with its strong reading culture, contributes to its innovative and entrepreneurial landscape. Overall, investing in Kenya provides an opportunity to tap into a dynamic market driven by passionate individuals, a sense of community, and a relentless pursuit of success.
Q: Which industry or startup scene excites you the most?
A: I find the tech-enabled startup scene most exciting, with various industries catching my attention. However, I can't single out a favorite industry because each day I come across different companies that teach me something new. Fintech has been a standout in recent years, but I encounter new and innovative companies every day. Proptech, for instance, fascinates me as they find innovative ways to address the increasing number of apartment complexes and offer affordable housing solutions. While I appreciate the exciting and shiny industries, I also have a deep passion for the homegrown sectors that are essential for our continent's development. Education, healthcare, finance, manufacturing, and agriculture are crucial areas that require innovative solutions to support the growing population and provide quality services to low-income households.
Q: Is there something interesting or surprising about yourself that most people would not know?
A: I grew up on a farm in Kenya. This experience instilled in me a strong work ethic, responsibility, and adaptability. I developed project management skills by overseeing tasks related to caring for animals. It also gave me a deep connection to nature and a love for the environment.
Renew Capital is an Africa-focused impact investment firm that backs innovative companies with high-growth potential. Renew Capital manages investments made on behalf of the Renew Capital Angels, a global network of angel investors, foundations and family offices who seek financial returns and sustainable social impact. For the latest on investing in Africa, subscribe and follow us at our social links below.