By Francis Wainaina
Despite experiencing a global pandemic with many business-related hurdles, the resilient African tech start-up ecosystem thrived during 2020, securing a record-breaking US$701.5 million in investments. With 27% more start-ups receiving funding last year, 397 local businesses raised more funding than ever. The continent’s ‘big four’ countries – Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt – accounted for 89.2% of the total investment. But it was Kenya which took the lead for the highest total combined raised capital in Africa, acquiring over US$190 million in funding in 2020. If these numbers are anything to go by, the future for our region’s tech companies looks promising.
Powered by improvements in digital infrastructure, Kenya’s growing start-up scene continues to fuel innovation, entrepreneurship and investment. Indeed, with Kenyan enterprises set to increase their spend on cloud computing services by 68% in 2021, small businesses and start-ups will likely follow suit, embracing cloud uptake to accelerate digital transformation.
Let’s look at the cloud’s significance for these fledgeling Kenyan companies and how it can be used as a catalyst for organisational growth and business success.
Driving the development of new start-ups
In September 2020, Kenya’s Senate published the Startup Bill 2020, providing a legal framework for innovative entrepreneurship by facilitating the registration of start-ups, establishing incubation hubs and linking these businesses to financial institutions and investors for capital. By promoting and enabling a conducive environment for start-ups to get off the ground, the already booming fintech and wider tech ecosystem in Kenya, especially Nairobi, is likely to flourish even further. It’s also progressive to see that the Kenyan government supports smaller enterprises and entrepreneurs, putting its faith in these businesses to thrive.
Harnessing the benefits of cloud for start-up success
While the advantages offered by cloud services are extensive and differ according to each unique start-up and its needs, the underlying benefits are the same: strategic value and cost-savings, scalability and flexibility as well as innovation and optimisation.
Cloud does not on-premise storage or physical infrastructure that continuously needs to be updated, lowering the total cost of ownership and IT maintenance costs in the long run, which is very useful for start-ups with limited initial budgets.
This ties in with the scalability of cloud solutions, as they are able to meet the current requirements of any business, big or small, and prepares start-ups for growth. Entrepreneurs can scale cloud services to fit the size and needs of their business. As their company grows, they can add users and services, giving them full control of their cash flow. Using cloud at the early stages of a business is also more sustainable and could ease an inevitable future migration.
The versatility and variety of cloud applications not only allow start-ups to innovate their operations cost-effectively but also to streamline processes. This frees time and resources for these companies to focus on what matters most.
Another advantage of having instant access to business-related files and information from any location or device is that companies will experience less downtime due to hardware failures and device theft. Data is safe and secure with an offsite backup and disaster recovery is possible.
Agility is an important benefit that comes with the cloud, helping tech start-ups to be more responsive to change, collaborate remotely, implement automation and use data analytics apps.
Choosing the right cloud and connectivity partner
With endless gains and improvements, resourceful and forward-thinking start-up businesses are incorporating cloud technology into their operations. However, stable, fast and reliable Internet is fundamental in effective cloud usage, so finding the right connectivity provider is vital.
Partnering with a full-suite provider that offers high-speed, low-latency, uncontended fibre and simple-to-integrate cloud tools could be just what your new business needs to level up and extend its reach. Find an African network service provider and ICT enabler that is committed to driving growth for companies of all sizes, offering a true business partnership that you can count on.
The writer is the senior product manager at Seacom East Africa