TIPS from the Living Lab Research #1: General organizational checklist

This checklist is based on the LL co-learning and co-creation processes of GESCI-AKE. Note that it lists core organizational issues that those projects have considered, and solved, but that may be very contextual, depending on the field and the kind of project at hand.



  1. What are the innovations – business models to be developed? What kind of businesses are being developed in the programme/project hub? Is the model focused on creating start-ups (a concept focused on high capital commercial venture products) or also “creative” ventures, collectives based on other alternative strategies like open access / open content and sharing?
  2. What are your desired outcomes? Are all kinds of outcomes desired (products, services, media content)? If so, they may need different kinds of training and development processes.
  3. How to select your participants? How do your formulate the basic requirements for candidates? Do you choose individuals, or teams and team members? Can they be working (challenges of commitment)? Who chooses the participants?
  4. How to organize timing of curriculum? A three-phase model seems to work but sometimes phases may overlap; the model may need to allow flexibility for parallel and overlapping phases.
  5. How to structure your tutors’/instructors’ commitment? Per topic/segment? A project-long commitment?
  6. How do you develop overall terminology and common language for your hub/project/process /model for effective collaboration with all parties?
  7. How do you develop a clear understanding of how individuals vis-a-vis groups and terms are supported and mentored?
  8. How do you develop a branding/marketing/outreach strategy as the projects grow and mature? How do you market your hub/project/process vis-a-vis your participants? Where is the synergy?
  9. How do you utilize alumni as a resource?
  10. How do you develop a clear understanding of Intellectual Property Rights and “ownership” of content, ideas within the programme, by individuals, in relation to possible industry partners, and so on?
  11. How do you plan for any possible “post-project” tracking, as well as support, for the individuals/projects?

What are we learning ?- In two images

The whole AKE team wants to learn more about the things that you are working on and how you are preparing to develop your ventures. To get a peak into what is happening in Nairobi we are asking you to send us a probe of how is life over there for each start-up, in the form of pictures.

THE TASKS for each start up:

1) Take a picture (or draw and take a pic of the drawing) of anything that represents an interesting insight, an inspiring observation or something you have learn as a team working on your venture.  Write a few sentences of how that image represents what you learned.

2) Take a picture (or draw and take a pic of the drawing) of anything that represents a challenge you have identified for your venture.  Write a few sentences of how that image illustrates the challenge.

Remember we are not searching for pretty pictures nor we want to evaluate you as photographers. We will be happy to have a glimpse of the kinds of things that are important right now in a very concrete way. Remeber that learning takes place not only around the things you do at AKE, so feel free to point out also unexpected observations from the everyday life challenges and opportunities of your ventures

Send your snapshots to Andrea (via email) before next Tuesday 28th of February. We will share them back in the blog next week.

For inspiration check what we did almost 9 months ago


Tools for Animators: Pixar in a Box

Two weeks ago we shared some free tools, developed by NPR, to solve sound design challenges.


Here’s another free tool, by Pixar. Much of the content may be basic to some, but those learning more about animation right now might enjoy this tool! (And who doesn’t want to get inspired in storytelling…):

There are few organizations in the world that can claim more expertise when it comes to storytelling than Pixar. The Disney-owned animation studio is known for its ability to consistently create world-class movies with gripping narrative alongside stunning visuals. – TechCrunch

Topics include:


Startup incubation starts! Pitching on the 8th of February

AKE start ups will now enter the incubation phase where they will work on their offerings, business model and partnerships. Victor, AKE manager reports from the hub that out of the 7 creative ventures that completed the second phase of the program, at least 5 will continue! We are looking forward to learn more about their work, ambitions, plans and learning journey.


AKE Participants rehearsing their pitches at the December showcase

Dear AKE startups remember this checklist, you need all these to start the last phase of the program :

  • Business registration certificate
  • Business KRA pin
  • Bank account details
  • Business model

To define the content and training needs of the next phase, AKE is arranging a pitching session on 8th of February. In the pitching sessions all startups will pitch their business plan and offerings to experienced mentors. Based on that experience they will together formulate their next learning objectives and needs.

Pitching event will be based on the following materials from each start up:

A Business portfolio (PDF version)
A Workplan for 2017
A presentation of their Mentor(s)
A Portfolio with sample of projects and prototypes (On a web page; CD/DVD)

To hep the start ups prepare for the pitching, Victor suggests a tour through materials on  Business Model Canvas and the Business Model Basics intro available from Strategyzer. And get inspiration from the work  colleagues in Kenya and abroad are already doing:
Leti Games:
Whiteshore: or
Shadrack Munene:
Tsunami Studios:

Duncan has also shared this interesting resource:


AKE participants rehearsing their pitches at the December showcase

AKE Showcase on 6.12.16


The African Knowledge Exchange (AKE) Creative Media Venture program is organizing a Project Showcase and Start-Up launch. The event serves also as the graduation ceremony for the participants

The event  will take place on December 6th 2016, from 10:00am to 4:30pm at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Westlands, Nairobi. We will be doing a live blog of the event, so stay tuned!

Update from the field: Hera, new tools, new ventures and TEAM work.

Its November already and AKE participants are now full speed working on their final projects and ventures. Our next milestone will be the AKE showcase (so far is planned for the 6th of December). We are now all working on  the things to showcase and the plan for the day! Stay tuned on more information on how to join us.


Working at the AKE lab

Meanwhile some AKE participants report from the field on how their work has been advancing. As you can see there are many levels: personal projects, team work and final productions.


Hera of Nwange background (by R Bancy)

Ruth Bancy (AKE participant from the game development team) shares with us one of the backgrounds she has been working on for Hera of Nwange. She has also been working with her colleagues on their joint venture VIDOSHO.

Ruth says about her project: “..It’s very challenging. I have had leadership roles before but not as demanding as this. The responsibilities and sacrifices that come with this role are a lot and I cannot afford to do mistakes neither fail either of them. I am happy that my partners are very supportive and it makes my work more easy “. Good attitude Ruth, we are looking froward to see Hera and learn more about Vidosho soon!


Chunya alubum (Artist: Makossiri, art cover: Chela)

This is the cover for  the upcoming album of AKE’s multifaceted artist Makossiri! The cover art is  done by Chela (AKE participant and talented digital artist). The first single of this album  was produced by Reuben Besa (AKE participant and sound producer) and released the 11th  November. Congratulations!!

For Makossiri teamwork and collaboration are one of the most important aspects she has learned during AKE Program. “.. As an artist and creative, you learn that people and the relationships that are build thereafter are what takes you to the next level and make you visualize things beyond your usual thoughts. We have to be vulnerable and open to collaborate with different minds.” Well said Makossiri, we can not agree more with you!

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Mbuyu character (By R Macau)

In this image AKE participant Maurice Macau at the AKE lab working on the final touches of the Sponsa Animation Project (now in the 2nd and 3rd phase). He is being in charge of the character Mbuyu who is almost ready.

Maurice has been very inspired by children around him  “.. since they represent the true us, and the joy we also had as children sometime back“. Let us all not forget how we can use joy and curiosity as good resource for learning.

As a joint venture all of us in AKE have also been using some new tools and practices to communicate and organize the work. Right now for example we have in use Whatsupp groups, google drive and email and Slack and Trello are some of the new tools we have being taking on board. Developing new practices takes time but with the support from AKE tutors, Victor and Irish tutors, we are all learning.

Some of our Trello boards look like this today :)… loads of TO DO lists and conversations. Things are moving forward!


AKE2016 One Trello board


AKE2016 Some collaborative document writing and planning

We have also been sketching, analyzing and taking more notes on all that has being happening in AKE. Here Minna and I share with you one rough diagram we made illustrating some components of AKE program. This is part of our joint work towards an AKE model.

Screen Shot 2016-11-17 at 12.49.53.png

AKE2016 The program in a nutshell (draft diagram by A Botero and M Aslamaa)

And AKE participants are also busy now formalizing and shaping some exciting new ventures, we like to see them as creative start-ups that aim to develop the role of the creative industries in Africa. All these ventures will be providing professional services to others in Kenya and abroad.

We have in the pipeline the following exciting businesses:

  1. Arktari Kreations offering animation, graphic design and web development services.  (Arktari has been featured before in the blog)
  2. Triple Touch providing entertainment services that include disk jocking, audio production, equipment.
  3. Vidosho offering architectural design, graphic design, animation and a series of e-cards products.
  4. VerbHouse offering services around cinematography, photography, advertisement
    and animation.
  5.  816Studio (working title)  a record label for selected Kenyan based artists.
  6. Pamoja Gamers (working title) providing game design and development services

[4th Gen #8] Conclusion: Modeling Innovation for GESCI in the Kenyan context

Conclusion: Modeling innovation for GESCI in the Kenyan context

By: Hanna Kannelmae

The goal that our group set out with was to suggest a model for a multi-stakeholder HUB  in supporting and promoting digital creative industries in East Africa. Spoiler alert, after conducting our research process, which included an inquiry of “The Sound of the City” project, identifying SWOT analysis points and issues identification on the current situation of Kenya’s innovation ecosystem, and conducting case studies on three African hubs and an impact sourcing center, we certainly achieved an applicable result of numerous  suggestions for the GESCI-AKE team, but did not reach our ambitious goal of producing a consistent and wholesome model.

In this final blog post I will summarise the suggestions that our research group made that in our mind could help when aiming to develop an education and business model with an aim to empower creative media entrepreneurs and liven and diversify the cultural industries in Nairobi, Kenya.

2015-03-04 11.38.25

Keeping in mind the strengths of the Kenya’s innovation ecosystem – a quickly growing economy, regional leadership in incubating innovation, catching the interest of international funders and partners and being a potential market for technology – we are convinced that a digital hub and ventures that grow out of it would have great potential for success in Kenya and/or internationally.

Taking into account the opportunities, weakness and challenges of the Kenya’s innovation ecosystem, we came up with following suggestions which are, in larg part, based on the best practices of already functioning Hubs in the African region, that our team researched.

  • Keeping a very open mind when targeting a broad scope of potential stakeholders to participate in the Hub processes, in order to avoid exclusively targeting and attracting highly educated participants, and only focusing on ICT and mobile innovations while neglecting culture. It would also facilitate creating opportunities for applicants without specific work qualifications.
  • Including end-users in the developing process, in  order to gain insight into consumer behaviour and necessary means for changing it or adapting to it.
  • Providing an “obstruction-conscious learning opportunity”, meaning that although the education in the Hub may be provided for free (if that is the case), for financially challenged participants living in remote or rural areas, there are other factors that might hold them back from engaging in the activities. Among those factors may be transport, housing, food, hygienical and social obstructions.
  • Concentrating on the networking of different stakeholders by creating specific spaces for it, introducing collaborative processes and getting people to organise around purposeful actions. This would facilitate knowledge and experience sharing and the visibility of different stakeholders, which would benefit the overall development of the local ecosystem.
  • A strong cooperation between the Hub and mobile payment platforms and other mobile industry in order to gain knowledge of the local digital market and consumer behavior, increasing investments and offering services which may lead to increased financial sustainability of the Hub.
  • Increasing sustainability with incubation programs, which, by increasing visibility for the projects that are in development, might facilitate finding opportunities for funding and angel investors.
  • Empowering the underpowered, whether it’s the youth, the elderly, the unemployed or handicapped, whether it’s women, gays, lesbians, transgender people, racial, ethnic or religious minorities, a digital hub with focus on culture is a perfect space for silenced voices to regain their dignity and identity. A diverse cultural content will increase the value of the Hub’s products and services, thereby improving its sustainability.

Finally, as we learned when searching for subjects for case studies, iHub has already seized an opportunity to thrive in the Kenyan fertile digital soil. Although some of the recommendations that we assembled, might not apply for iHub, they appear to be a vital platform with potential for growth and success in supporting the development of many local areas of interest, culture among them. Hence a member of our group, Irene, devised a different kind of a concept for GESCI, described as follows:

Even though the Kenyan government is eager to be a part of the new innovation process, it lacks the existing in-house capacity and expertise to enable the development of new technologies. Having provided technical assistance to the Kenyan government on several projects, such as Kenya MoHEST, Kenya NEMA, Kenya MOYAS, GESCI certainly has the expertise and experience in helping the Kenyan government to fulfill its role and potential in the innovation ecosystem. GESCI can become an ultimate umbrella organization brokering among different actors and stakeholders to maximize the public-private-civil society engagement of the innovation ecosystem. This corresponds very well to GESCI’s belief in adopting the whole-system approach in order to achieve maximum impact and maximize the benefits.