AMPION Venture Bus Destined for DEMO Africa, Lagos

DEMO Africa is getting even fierier after a confirmation that the AMPION Venture Bus 2014 will land at the venue of the DEMO Africa event in Lagos, Nigeria. The collaboration will see the best start up team that emerges from this bus earning a chance to pitch at the opening session of DEMO Africa 2014.

The AMPION Venture Bus journey to DEMO Africa will begin on 19 September 2014 in Abidjan. Over the next five days Ampioneers will be travelling to Takoradi, Ghana; Lomé, Togo; Accra, Ghana; and Cotonou, Benin before arriving in Lagos on 24 September 2014. The Venture Bus will stop at innovation centres in each of these cities, interacting with local investors and entrepreneurs.



AMPION encourages designers, developers, mentors and investors from West Africa and all over the world to apply to one of the seats.

The seats are highly subsidized and start at US $50. Commenting on the new collaboration, DEMO Africa’s event director Mbugua Njihia emphasised the importance of joint efforts by various parties in boosting the start-up scene in Africa.

“We are all working hard to raise the awareness among stakeholder on the importance of innovations across Africa. Joining hands gives us an even louder voice thus making better our chances to be heard.”

Excited about the move, Fabian Guhl, Managing Director of the Berlin and Harare based AMPION, commented that being able to participate at DEMO Africa is a double win.

“We share a lot of the same vision and goals. I am very pleased that our Ampioneers will have the opportunity to access such a high calibre audience, particularly so soon after their awesome trip from Abidjan”

The AMPION Venture Bus will operate in the week preceding the DEMO Africa event ending its journey in Lagos on the 24th September 2014. The Ampioneers will then join the other participants at DEMO Africa, one of the most successful tech events in Africa, with an estimated US $10 million of investment and business value being raised in previous iterations of the conference.

As has been witnessed in the previous events, the September event is expected to attract top notch African investors. Participants’ registration is already open at

The secretariat has put together a special package for investor delegates which comprises: 15% discount on a DEMO Africa ticket, 15% discount on a VC4A Pro Account, Access to the companies’ financials, Ticket to the Investor Cocktail on DEMO Africa’s opening evening, Ticket to a special Investor Boomcamp as well as access to a special Investor Lounge and Deal Room at DEMO Africa. More information on this package can be found here.

DEMO Africa 2014 is scheduled to take place between 22nd and 26th of September at the Oriental Hotel in Lagos, Nigeria. This year’s event is being organized in collaboration with the LIONS@FRICA partners (Microsoft, Nokia, US State Department, DEMO, USAID, African Development Bank, VC4Africa among others) and Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Information and Communication Technologies.

August 2014 Graphic Design Bootcamp!

Over the past few months, we’ve been working closely with Nyandia Kamawe and Abigael Wangui to give high school students a hands on introduction to design. We’ve been taking the girls through design thinking, and ultimately into designing posters for various school campaigns.

This August, we’re hosting yet another one week intensive training for high school girls on Graphic design, as a continuation of the work done during our bi monthly outreach sessions. The bootcamp will run between 18th – 22nd August, 2014 from 9:00a.m to 3p.m, followed by a mini hackathon on Saturday 23rd August, 2014. Boot Camp attendees will have a chance to hack in groups and showcase work done to friends and family, with prizes awarded to the winners of the mini-hackathon.

Course objectives include:-

  • Create layouts for print and collateral materials from assigned concepts and production specifications.
  • Systematically develop strong, creative layout solutions by means of a cumulative design process.
  • Select the visual components (photography, illustration, text blocks, and headline typeface and form) or successful layout.
  • Employ effective visual structural systems (grid structures) to produce a cohesive group of ad layouts in a variety of page formats.

The program will cost KES 2000/= per student. Lunch will be provided.

If you are or know any girl who would be interested in participating, have them sign up on this form below by August 12th, 2014. For more information, feel free to get in touch with Marie Githinji via mgithinji AT akirachix DOT com.

Akirachix Entrepreneurs: Where Vision meets Enterprise – Janet Alfred

(Beginning this week, we’re featuring a couple of our current AkiraChix training program students, who are dipping their feet into entrepreneurship, thanks to loans from KIVA Zip. Learn more about what businesses they’ve started, and how their lives are being positively impacted)

Janet Alfred, the 22 year old entrepreneur, grew up with a single mother, being the second last born in a family of 6 other boys.

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Being the only girl was not an advantage or a disadvantage. My mom made sure that she would treat all of us equally well”

The humble background she had did not work against her as she was always top of her class ( or very near the top ) all of her primary and secondary life. Her leadership skills shone through her being the head girl at her primary school and being the class prefect and Christian Union Chairperson  in High School.

Despite having been a good student and doing fairly well in KCSE, My mother did not have funds to take me to a tertiary institution”

She found herself with a lot of free time on her hands which prompted her to continue with her hobby of playing soccer and baseball. On one of the days when she did not have a tournament, she happened to stumble upon her friend making crafts. She was drawn to this art and began by just passing by there to watch as her friend and her other colleagues made various works of art that included mats.

“ I would just admire them as they made their various works. Observing what they would do day after day made me learn quite quickly how to make them. I began by offering  to make mats for my friend. At this point, I was making mats as a pastime to avoid sitting idly at home”

It started as a past time

It started as a pass time

When circumstance made her friend to move away, she was plunged into a situation where she would have to use the expertise gained to make the mats by herself. At this point, she looked at the mat-making craft as a business idea that could be put into practice.

It began with her mother taking notice of her works and marketing her to other moms in area. She would use the proceeds to support her mother since her mom was not gainfully employed.

Right now she ensures that she markets her product by always having a sample with her wherever she goes.

What she believes makes her business unique is the beautiful African theme of the print and the affordability of her wares as compared to other commercially produced mats.


When Janet is not being an entrepreneur, she enjoys reading novels by African writers and playing her favourite sports- soccer and baseball. She makes sure to do Bible study and take part in church activities as she is a staunch believer and attributes where she is to God’s mercies over her life.

“I have always wanted to be a teacher and being in the IT field was something I hadn’t thought of since I viewed it as a male-preserve. I’m glad I was able to meet great women in IT whom I look up to as role models.”

“ Starting and being able to run my own business is nothing short of a huge encouragement to me. It gives me a sense of accomplishment. As I look at my life goals and at the possibility of achieving them through this business I am encouraged to keep going despite the challenges.”

From fluctuating prices of materials to not being able to seamlessly juggle between work duties and classroom responsibilities as a full-time student at Akirachix, Janet experiences a not so smooth ride.

To this she boldly states:

“In life there is nothing that comes easy. You need to struggle. You need to go through the pain that it takes to attain to your goals. You should not give up easily.”



Janet is selling each mat at 2000/= KES. If you’re interested in buying one, please reach out to her via

A Peek into the day of a High school Outreach Volunteer

“High School outreach”. To some, it sounds like a missionary program where tech guru’s go to high schools and evangelise. This isn’t far from the truth but what Marie Githinji, our Outreach Director and the team of trainers and volunteers do is much much more than that.

As an intern to the Outreach Director , I get to see first hand the intricacies involved in making this program come to life.

The instructors selflessly rearrange their schedules, making weekly sacrifices in order to make time to go to the schools and impart knowledge they have garnered in the industry. All in a bid to bring forth the next Mark Zuckerberg!

Time and time again we are looked upon as superwomen and are commended for the work that we do. However, it would not all be possible without the full participation and enthusiasm of the high school girls. So far the girls have been encouraging. Absorbing the most that they can with the short time that is available during the visits.

Even if we have exhausting days at work and are tired by the end of the day, the excitement exhibited by the young curious minds of these schools is so infectious we get swept into their world and end up just as energy packed as they are. At the end of the visit, we always anticipate the next time we will be back.


its not all fun and games..learning in progress!

The first session we had with the girls was a design thinking class led by Abigael Wangui, UX researcher at ihub. We gave the girls a chance to go through the process of design thinking. Letting them list their own problems being experienced in the schools and solutions to those problems.

They had to learn to work together agreeably.  By the end of those sessions, they were able to identify problems that they were experiencing and come up with feasible solutions to those problems. One of the girls admitted,

“It was very interesting because we were able to see how the knowledge that we will acquire from the training will fit into our practical lives in school and even after school. “

We moved on to design work led by Nyandia Kamawe, graphic designer and creative director of Ewamak Design Ltd. The students start streaming into the class with eagerness clearly showing on their faces.

For some it was going to be their very first encounter with Design. As soon as the class was settled and everyone had access to a computer, we hit the road running.

Graphic design class in progress

Graphic design class

Nyandia taught in an upbeat fashion and the girls matched her speed and rhythm perfectly. At some point almost surpassing her as they got more into the gist of design.

Squeals of accomplishment and high fives could be heard around the room as the girls successfully implemented the little knowledge they had acquired in the short span of time. In less than an hour, the class had been able to design a simple poster!


In less than one hour the girls had made a poster!

Its such experiences that keep us coming back despite any challenge that may be encountered.

We could only anticipate more fun times with these girls.