I had heard of “The Hub” while doing my MBA at IE Business School. A hub is a shared workspace where entrepreneurs can have an “office” to work from with varying amenities. Some offer conference rooms. Most hold events somewhat related to entrepreneurship/technology as well as social and fun events. The professional events may be about refining your pitch, aspects of business that technical people should learn, or companies coming in to educate developers about their tools/products.

The idea is to get talented people in the same room and let things flourish. It may sound more chaotic than it is. With a pair of headphones you can be in as private a space as you’d like. And each hub has one or several heavyweights in its corner as a supporter (think Microsoft, Google, etc.).

Each hub has different rules and memberships. Some have free membership plans, others don’t. It really depends. But for an entrepreneur looking to move out of his/her garage, this is a great first step and a way to network.

I was fortunate enough to visit several hubs.

Each of these hubs has its own story, with successes and failures galore.

I spoke with one of the employees at iHub Nairobi and she shared two of her favorite success stories.

MFarm Kenya – This company has removed the stubborn middle man in farm transactions. In the traditional way of doing things, a farmer would sell his crop to a middle man for quite a low price. The middle man would transport the produce to the city and sell it to vendors there, taking in the majority of the income in this three step process. MFarm eliminates the middle man. With a cell phone farmers can send a text message (SMS) and find out the current prices of a variety of inputs as well as finished produce. They can also sell their produce to the market, avoiding a middle man, and paying reasonable prices for transport. MFarm created a market where there wasn’t one before and empowers those at the bottom of the food chain (pun intended) by allowing them to sell directly to the market and having current market prices at their fingertips.

Kopo Kopo - Kopo Kopo leverages the existing mobile payment market in Kenya, perhaps the most developed in the world. Though the system to send money from one person to another is fantastically simple and inexpensive, almost no businesses accept mobile payments. Kopo Kopo stepped in to facilitate these mobile transactions, taking just 1% for the convenience of allowing customers to pay using their cell phones.

I felt it was necessary to share this story for a couple of reasons. First, Africa is full of hope. People in Africa are optimistic that their best days are ahead of them and people are actively out there trying to forge a better future. The examples above are two such examples.

Similarly, these hubs foster African solutions for African problems. Foreign aid has shown that imposing solutions from outside often doesn’t result in the desired outcomes. But providing the resources so that others can reach their full potential and do the good they feel it is their mission to do – that’s the goal of these hubs. Empowerment. Plain and simple.


Visiting Eldoret, Kenya On A Whim

July 28, 2014

Bumping Into 2003 Boston Marathon Runner-up Benjamin Kosgei Kimutai

I hadn’t planned on visiting Eldoret. I thought I’d go from Kampala, Uganda straight to Nairobi, Kenya, then on to Mombasa, Kenya and then on to Tanzania. Well, two reasons made me change my plans. As I mentioned in my post about Christmas in Burundi, a wonderful Kenyan named Carole let me stay at her […]

Read the full story →

Spending A Night At The Uganda-Kenya Border

July 23, 2014

I Was The First Person On The Bus

My very cool yet very different Christmas experience in Burundi left me hoping I’d get to meet Carole! She was so nice to let me stay in her place while she was at home in Eldoret, Kenya celebrating the holidays with her family. Originally she planned to come back to Burundi, via Uganda, when I […]

Read the full story →

Celebrating The New Year In Uganda

July 21, 2014

Celebrating New Year's!

I wasn’t sure if I’d be celebrating New Year’s Eve in Rwanda or Uganda. I was trying to arrange an expedition into the mountains to see the gorillas in either Rwanda or Uganda, but it was just way too expensive. So I stayed a few days in Rwanda and then headed to Kampala, Uganda on […]

Read the full story →

Yet Another Genocide

July 16, 2014

Kigali Memorial Center

You might say an undercurrent of The Happy Nomad Tour has been hitting all the genocide spots of the 20th century. First there was Cambodia, then Ukraine (though it’s usually not mentioned, arguably it’s the worst of them all), Armenia, Slovakia/Israel (representative of the holocaust), and now Rwanda. Rwanda is a peculiar one though. In […]

Read the full story →

Hanging Out With Rwandan Street Boys

July 14, 2014

The Soccer-Basketball Court

Africa has a problem with street boys. For one reason or another, many boys end up living on the street. Maybe their parents have died. Maybe the parents are HIV positive and can’t provide for the kids. The parents could have substance abuse problems. The family could be incredibly poor and the kids feel obligated […]

Read the full story →

Umuganda – Cleaning Up Rwanda And Building Communities

July 9, 2014

Masaka Umuganda November 22 2012

My first full day in Kigali, capital of Rwanda, was on Saturday, December 28th, 2013. I arrived the evening before and was staying with a German friend of Martin and Jonas – though neither had actually met him in person. He and his roommate were extremely nice, but they forgot to mention something important about the […]

Read the full story →

A Crazy, Crazy Christmas In Burundi

July 7, 2014

Welcome To Burundi

It wasn’t my goal to spend Christmas in Burundi. But I found a free ticket using my frequent flier miles from Hargeisa, Somalia (Somaliland) to Bujumbura, Burundi on December 23rd, 2013. Burundi seemed as good a place as any to spend Christmas, so why not? I would arrive on December 24th due to an overnight […]

Read the full story →

Visiting A Camel Market In Hargeisa, Somalia

July 2, 2014

Smiling Camel - Taken 22-Dec-2013 - Hargeisa, Somalia

I had planned to go to Las Geel and Berbera while in Somaliland. There aren’t many touristy things to do, but seeing some early signs of civilization in majestic caves and seeing some shipwrecks off the Gulf of Aden would suffice. I had read online that I could go to Las Geel for about $80, […]

Read the full story →

Somalia – Lovely At Christmastime

June 30, 2014

He Asked Me To Take His Picture

“So wait, you went to Somalia..for fun..at Christmastime?” “Yes, I did.” It’s a conversation I’ve had far too many times since visiting Somalia in December 2013. This article will serve as a record of my experience, and perhaps a gentle nudge that you too should visit! I got to Somalia by taking a buses in […]

Read the full story →

Harar, Ethiopia – Holy Islamic City & Feeding Hyenas!

June 25, 2014

Feeding The Hyenas

Harar was an interesting place to visit after Lalibela. While Lalibela is an important city in Ethiopia’s Christian history, Harar is central to Ethiopia’s Muslim history. Considered the 4th holiest city in Islam (after Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem), Harar in many ways is a symbol of what could be. Muslims and Christians have been living […]

Read the full story →

Reveling In Ethiopia’s Cheap & Efficient Medical Care While Battling Infection

June 23, 2014


On my fourth and final full-day bus ride of the week I visited Lalibela, Ethiopia, I woke up knowing something was wrong with my stomach. It was the fourth time that week I had to get up at 4:30am and I knew my stomach didn’t like severe disruptions to my normal schedule (whatever that is). […]

Read the full story →

Lalibela – Some Of The World’s Most Amazing Churces

June 18, 2014

St George's Church

Lalibela is one of Ethiopia’s most holy places.  Named after King Lalibela, this town contains some of the world’s most impressive churches. After Saladin captured Jerusalem, Lalibela built these churches. One group represents earthly Jerusalem, and the other represents heavenly Jerusalem. One of the first Europeans to see the churches, a Portuguese priest named Francisco […]

Read the full story →

Stuck In The Middle Of Ethiopia – 4 Days On Buses For One Day In Lalibela!

June 16, 2014

Pushing The Bus

When my friends in Lebanon convinced me that I had to go to Ethiopia, they specifically mentioned that I had to visit Lalibela. They said it was 1000 times more impressive than Petra. I hadn’t been to Petra yet, but that seemed a bit hard to believe! Well, like everything in life, the good things […]

Read the full story →

Helped By An Ethiopian Angel

June 11, 2014

With Layla, A Supremely Kind Ethiopian

On my first day in Ethiopia I wanted to be proactive and get visas for upcoming countries. First I went to the Djibouti Embassy. It took a while to find it. I knew the general area it was in, but I had to ask many, many random people on the street who all guided me […]

Read the full story →

Initial Impressions Of Beautiful Ethiopia

June 9, 2014

Africa Street In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia And A Belching Bus

I arrived in Ethiopia not really knowing what to expect. I knew very little about the country before I decided to come here. While I was in Lebanon my friends there kept ranting and raving about Ethiopia. I decided to come and I did a bit of preliminary research. The history seemed interesting. It was […]

Read the full story →

Not Getting Arrested At The Khartoum, Sudan Airport, Thankfully

June 4, 2014

My Personal Escort Through The Airport

I departed Ankara, Turkey for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in December 2013. It was a 13-hour overnight journey with stops in Istanbul and Khartoum, Sudan. While checking in for the flights in Ankara, the agent told me that they could only check my bag to Khartoum. My connecting flight was on Ethiopian Airlines and their system […]

Read the full story →
Page 1 of 451231020