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Meet Ken Gitonga of Kenly Hub, #GSC2018 Finalist

Just like many of us, Ken has dreams, goals, and plans for the future. He launched the first e-bursary platform in Kenya to help students apply and receive bursaries from any part of the country without needing an inside connection. Read how his mobile application aims to improve education and address issues of bias, discrimination and corruption in government offices.

Greetings Ken, nice to meet you. What is the story behind starting your business?

I started Kenly Hub in September 2016 in order to secure my future. Just like the 16th President of the United States, President Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”I started Kenly Hub to ensure that in future I won’t struggle with the social menace of high unemployment rate in Kenya which increases day in, day out. I had to do something that will help the community as I earn from it. “Yes, you can help the community and make money at the same time. At YEPI we define such people as Social Entrepreneurs.”

What is unique about your business and what service or solution does it offer?

The unique thing about Kenly Hub is that, we have a new product that has not been used before anywhere in Kenya. The product, e-Bursary System solves all the challenges that arise from manual application of bursary from government institutions such as: inequality in award, cost of accessing the forms, long queues at the government offices, the tedious and time-consuming process of filling and submitting the forms and finally misappropriation of taxpayer’s money by bursary committees. Our e-Bursary system provides equal opportunity for students from all walks of life to apply for bursaries and receive real-time updates on the status of their application through system inbox, email and text messages. The system, now used by Technical University of Mombasa and Molo Constituency has improved efficiency in government offices and increased access of education to over 800 students.

What would you say has driven you to be successful in your business?

In today's competitive business world, constant learning is essential to the success of any young and aspiring entrepreneur. “Just like food nourishes our bodies, information and continued learning nourishes our minds.” This is what has contributed to my success and innovation. Other things that have led to my success are the right attitude, proper research for my business, teamwork and above all, trusting God. Being a Business student in the university and now doing ICT related stuff is an effort I made by learning ICT articles, journals and business information materials.

How does your business help the community around you?

The business helps the community in that; they can now apply for bursaries from the comfort of their home using computer, tablet or smartphones. This has reduced the cumbersome process of application, improved efficiency in government offices and increased access of education mostly to needy students.

At YEPI, we’re always inspired to see young and ambitious entrepreneurs like you – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always an easy journey. What challenges have you experienced since you started your business?

The challenges I have faced are many but I will handle two, Access to Capital and finding the right Network. We all know that you can run a business without profit but you can’t run a business without limited cashflow. The working capital for the daily operation of the business has been tough for me and my team. I remember when I got an appointment with the Molo Member of Parliament Mr Francis Kimani Kuria, even raising transport cost to meet him in his Nairobi office was a challenge. I had to borrow 5000 Kenya Shillings from friends to cater for my transport to and from Nairobi. The second challenge that I have experienced in my business is finding a strategic network of people that can support my work and shape my future business goals. For instance, getting an audience with policy makers such as Members of Parliaments or County officials to sell my idea has been a challenge in itself. But I believe the challenges will soon end.

How did you feel when you were selected to participate in GSC2018?

I felt very happy when I was selected as a finalist for the GSC2018. In fact, because I am an opportunist, I took some screenshots of the email notification, attached them in my proposals as I wait to meet my target clients. I know being selected for this program will give me a bargaining edge.

Please share any transforming story you’ve experienced so far.

My transforming story was when Technical University of Mombasa was launching the system for the first time. In attendance was the Deputy Governor of Mombasa County, Mvita Member of Parliament, University Vice Chancellor, Student Union Leaders and the Students. Being the person to take all these guest through the system was really transforming. After successful presentation of the e-Bursary system, the Deputy Governor, in his speech, told the audience that, “This is what a university graduate should do. This is really impressive young man. Keep it up." This moment gave me enough confidence to approach any government leader to sell my idea.