After serving in various roles at iHub for over 8 years, Nekesa Wereis finally on to become the interim Executive Director of AfriLabs, pan-African network of 202 technology innovation hubs across 46 African countries. The organisation was founded in 2011 to build a community around rapidly emerging tech hubs, with a mission to support the growth of these technology hubs and their communities to raise high potential entrepreneurs that will stimulate economic growth and social development in Africa.
AfriLabs announced the development via its website, stating that the board had appointed Nekesa Were as Interim Executive Director to act on behalf of Anna Ekeledo, the substantive Executive Director who’s proceeding to her maternity leave till later this year.
(TOP: Nekesa Were).
Nekesa Were comes on board with over 10 years of experience in the African tech ecosystem. She is the immediate past Managing Director of iHub Nairobi and before now, a Board Member of AfriLabs.
“Having Nekesa on the AfriLabs Board has brought us so much value and now we are super excited to have her join our Executive team. Exciting times ahead!” said Anna Ekeledo.
Speaking on behalf of the AfriLabs board, board chair, Rebecca Enonchong said: “Nekesa has been a key member of the African tech ecosystem for many years. We’re incredibly blessed to be able to leverage her breadth and depth of experience as she leads the Afrilabs secretariat during this period.”
Nekesa joined iHub’s management team just two years after the organisation was established in March 3, 2010.
“For the next two years I was part of the iHub community and in 2012 I joined the iHub Team, first as Director of Operations, then COO and finally as the head of the organisation as Managing Director. On that chilly Nairobi evening in March 2010, I knew we were starting something special. The last 10 years have been an exhilarating ride. Now ‘my watch is ended’. I am leaving the iHub team but will always be part of the iHub community,” reminisced Nekesa.
Highlighting some of the major milestones at iHub, Nekesa stated that she’d had “the privilege of working with a high performance, high impact community of innovators.”
“Over the ten years, we have supported over 700 startups with business support services and graduated over 150 from our accelerator programs. These startups have raised over $50 million in investment and have contributed, conservatively over 50,000 jobs to East Africa’s economy. Their products have positively impacted millions of people. One of the perks of my job was the front row seat to watch the growth of most of these startups in real time,” she noted on her blog.
“Equally important, the iHub has been a must-visit for high schools and university students from across Kenya and Africa. We have reached out to and welcomed grassroots organisations that are transforming their local communities across rural Africa, we help plant innovation centres in the most remote parts of our societies. The iHub’s impact is wide and also deep.”
“As our Executive Director Anna Ekeledo enjoys her maternity leave, I’m honoured to be able to cover for her as Interim Executive Director and work with the community at Afrilabs to continue to impact at a continental level. The lessons I take with me from the iHub will be instrumental in ensuring continued growth of membership, network and impact of Afrilabs and I’m glad to be able to support Anna and the team in this way,” announced Nekesa.
Prior to joining the country’s tech and innovation community, Nekesa served at the Social media Director at Generation Kenya where she began her professional journey before moving to Kenya Rugby Union where she held various managerial positions between 2007 to 2012. After this, she served for a short stint at Inuka Kenya Trust as the New Media Associate from where she moved iHub. Apart from AfriLabs, she serves on the boards of Inspire Harvest, Africa Tech and Creatives Group, Missing Child Kenya and Creatives Garage.