Securing a niche in Kenya’s exploding tech economy

The tech scene in Kenya is going from strength to unprecedented strength. The Harvard Business Review is the latest in a line of analysts to note the incredible growth of the tech industry, with the impact of fintech boosting financial inclusion from 26% of the population (2006) to 83% today. A huge driver behind these changes is the provision of easily accessible tech and a widening digital network. Produced in its wake are opportunities for new employment, new businesses, and new digital businesses. Competition is fierce, and carving out a niche is key.

Validating the market

Before a business ever gets off the ground, the entrepreneur in charge must conduct thorough research. Research shows the level of the challenge posed to Kenyan business: a conference paper for the International Conference on Excellence In Services found that 70% of Kenyan SMEs failed within the first three years. One oft-cited reason behind this is a lack of demand resulting from entering into an overly competitive market. Digital businesses have the advantage of being able to undertake product validation. This process uses data from the web to help pick apart a design idea and make sure there isn’t anything quite like it – essentially making sure that an idea or product really is unique and offers something the market hasn’t yet provided for and that market demand will be present.

Securing exclusivity

Kenya continues to have an issue when it comes to the registration, enforcement, and fair use of trademarks and copyright. Indeed, one paper published by Mondaq found that counterfeiting in traditional sectors (such as construction) had already cost the country US$100 million per year. The digital sector is harder to measure, but likely impacted to an even greater degree. Until trademark and copyright protections are shored up and of better quality, it’s important that businesses protect their product by aggressively protecting their work – especially in the digital sector. Part of this can also come through other ways of demonstrating authenticity.

SEO marketing

A savvy digital business is on top of its SEO, and this is incredibly important in Kenya’s modern market. The digital economy is so competitive that rising above rival businesses is not only crucial for finding new traffic, but also with regards to asserting and protecting your work. How can this work? SEO reveals a bias by Google towards businesses that are able to fully substantiate their personal details and give a full record to those making searches – name, address, phone number, and so on. This information is something that you can provide with full accuracy, and before anyone else does. From the first minute of founding a digital business, ensure that you provide the full accompaniment of details to the search engines to enable customers to find your door.

These basics are quite simple in nature, but provide an underpinning for digital business. In a market like Kenya, which is effervescent in nature yet still developing, having these tools in your pocket will be invaluable.

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