Nairobi hosts 99th Endeavor ISP global event 

Linda Rottenberg

From left: Linda Rottenberg (co-founder and CEO, Endeavor), Maryanne Ochola (Managing Director, Endeavor Kenya) and Michele Wanjiku (Regional Lead, Endeavor Catalyst).

Photo credit: Courtesy

What you need to know:

  • Kenyan start-ups attracted $800 million in venture capital in 2023.
  • The Endeavor programme provides entrepreneurs with access to mentors.

More than 30 local entrepreneurs have had an opportunity to pitch to a panel of successful entrepreneurs, investors and corporate leaders at the 99th Endeavor International Selection Panel event, held between the 22nd to 24th of May, in Nairobi.

The choice to hold the 99th ISP event in Nairobi reaffirms the importance of entrepreneurship in Kenya where innovation hubs play a crucial role in supporting the rising number of innovators and start-ups in the country.

This is the first time that the ISP global event has been hosted in Kenya, since the high impact entrepreneurship network Endeavor, was established years ago. 

“Endeavor doesn’t create entrepreneurship; it already exists in every country. We enhance the conditions under which it can thrive,” said Linda Rottenberg, co-founder and CEO, Endeavor.

According to ‘Africa: The Big Deal’, Kenyan start-ups attracted $800 million in venture capital in 2023 surpassing Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa to top the continent.

Flourishing start-ups

“Kenya is considered a pacesetter for other African markets with Nairobi hosting an ecosystem of flourishing start-ups that continue to evolve every day,” said Maryanne Ochola, the Managing Director, Endeavor Kenya.

The ISP convened entrepreneurs from emerging markets including Nigeria, Philippines, Indonesia, Jordan, and Ecuador among others as well as panellists who are either successful entrepreneurs themselves, investors or corporate leaders. 

It marked the culmination of a 12 to 18 month search for Endeavor entrepreneurs, aimed at identifying the fastest growing founders with the most significant potential.

“The selection process that involves interviews, deliberations and networking between entrepreneur candidates and global business leaders is a very critical component that enables them to refine their ideas and ultimately the success of their businesses,” posed Ochola.

During the two and a half day event, entrepreneurs benefited from interactions and unique insights from a line-up of renowned local and international speakers including Linda Rottenberg, the co founder and CEO of Endeavor; Peter Njonjo, a seasoned entrepreneur and CEO of Selu; João Del Valle, CEO of Ebanx, (LATAM Fintech Unicorn); Melvyn Lubega, founder of Go1, South-Africa's first Tech Unicorn and Abdulmajeed Alsukhan, co founder and CEO, Tamara.

Attract more investments

Once selected, entrepreneurs will be connected with dedicated Endeavor staff members who serve as trusted partners to work with and curate the most impactful experiences between them and the network to help accelerate their scale-up journey.

“At Endeavor Kenya, we place a heavy emphasis on mentorship programs for young founders by more experienced founders as this could also help them attract more investments into their businesses and therefore growth and expansion,” said Makenzi Muthusi, a Partner at KPMG and an Endeavor Kenya Board Member.

Meanwhile, Michael Mutiga, Chief Business Development and Strategy Officer, Safaricom and Endeavor Kenya Board Member, said that as the demand for new jobs continues to rise, high-impact companies will play a crucial role in creating an environment for continued growth, addressing the challenge of unemployment by driving innovation, strengthening value chains, and paving the way for long-term expansion.

“The services Endeavor provides to these companies accelerates high-impact entrepreneurship that has the capacity to transform our region,” said Mutiga.

The Endeavor programme provides entrepreneurs with access to mentors, capital, education and a platform to pay it forward, so that their success is not just defined by growth, profit and valuation but also by the impact they have in their local ecosystem.

“Endeavor entrepreneurs pay it forward through the multiplier effect by inspiring, mentoring and investing in the next generation of founders,” said Maryanne Ochola.