Science, Technology & Environment

How a Kenyan startup’s business model connected Kibera slum residents to the web

How a Kenyan startup’s business model connected Kibera slum residents to the web
January 3rd, 2017
Author: Economic Voice Staff

In this always-on era, nearly two-thirds of the world’s population, or 4.9 billion people, are still not connected to the Internet.

poa! Internet is a company that is working to solve this problem by making Internet accessible in Kenya’s poorer and least connected areas.

Aiming to bring millions of East Africans online over the next years, poa! uses innovative technology and transparent, reasonable product pricing. The company has initially launched in Kibera, the second largest slum in Africa, delivering broadband access to thousands that previously couldn’t afford it.

Kibera Kenya by SuSanA Secretariat (CC-BY-2.0)

Kibera Kenya by SuSanA Secretariat (CC-BY-2.0)

poa! uses solar powered WiFi hotspots to provide over 1,760,000 square meters of high speed internet coverage across Kibera. Not only has this drawn thousands of users within the first few months of launch, but it has also provided free Internet access to many of Kibera’s schools, health centres, churches, mosques and youth centres.

Established in August 2015 , poa! Internet is a young company with a dynamic team of 25, many of whom are millennials from Kibera itself. The company sells Internet access for as little as KSh10 (US$0.1) for 25MB, making it highly affordable for residents of the slum. It also provides customers with free access to a wide range of digital content, including educational and healthcare and other socially beneficial materials as well as sports, entertainment and news.

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To implement the initial launch and development phase, poa! raised Series A funding from African investor Novastar Ventures and US-based BiscayneAmericas and was advised by Tech City law firm Temple Bright.

poa! Internet’s story is inspirational, as it illustrates a pragmatic solution to providing Internet access to the places that need it most. It’s a good example of a young technology company making life better for its local community and engaging other youths in business, in this case by allowing them to take part in setting up cyber cafes and shops where these young entrepreneurs can sell Internet bundles. It will be exciting to see how poa! applies its experience in Kenya to the rest of East Africa.

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