Half Year Review: What 2021 Has Served Us So Far

It’s crazy how time flies and how things progress. Last year was a whirlwind and this year has proved to have negatives but also positives nonetheless. We are still amid a pandemic and may feel the effects of 2020’s crisis. But it may be safe to say that we welcomed this year with a “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” kind of energy.

We continue to swim (not sink) at Mettā having adjusted to the new normal of working that includes tons of zoom meetings, physical events turned webinars and virtual programs to say the least. We are proud to have overcome any challenges thus far and be able to do what we do best; connect people, ideas, and resources and support our community through introduction, collaboration, and knowledge sharing.

Here are some of the things we have been up to for the first half of this year.


Creative Challenge

“The only unique contribution we may ever have in this world may be born of our creativity.”

-Brene Brown

The Creative Challenge is a program under the Resource Of Open Mind (R.O.O.M) powered by Hivos East Africa that aims to support the power of creativity towards community connection in uncertain times and support the sustainability of creative businesses post-COVID for enterprises located outside the Nairobi Metropolitan area.

We received tons of applications that opened our eyes to the vastness of Kenya’s creative sector. Applicants presented different flavors of creativity which allowed us to rediscover the local creative scene. 

We are also proud to have selected a cohort that comprises brilliant minds within the Kenyan creative industry. Each participant has a unique project in line with a creative segment under a specific thematic area.

Get to know more about this amazing cohort here.

Startup-SME Linkage Program

Innovation and collaboration is key to the success of many companies. It is based on the intelligent use of all possible resources, including partnerships with actors outside the firm.

Following the successful completion of the Startup-SME Linkage Pilot Program in 2020, which resulted in 6 deals, and 4 pending deals out of a cohort of 36 participants, we were excited to extend the program this year to benefit more startups and SMEs, alongside the UK-Kenya Tech Hub

In this 2021 program, referred to as the Startup-SME Linkage Program 2.0 (SSL 2.0), we provided tech startups and SMEs from all industries with direct linkages to one another. Creating connections and networks is no easy task. Through SSL 2.0, we helped SMEs and startups increase their chances of partnerships and commercial deals by providing them with one marketplace to discover potential collaborations.

COOPEN Program

COOPEN is an open innovation program, promoted by Innovazione per lo Sviluppo in collaboration with Cariplo Factory, which supports innovators in understanding and navigating to develop commercial propositions and prepare their businesses to scale.

The goal of the program is to support innovative & sustainable technological solutions to meet sustainable development challenges in Africa through partnerships between Italian Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Innovation stakeholders.

We were excited to host the startup, Valuebin, for the 2021 COOPEN Program. Valuebin makes sustainability easy and affordable by guiding consumers in their journey through a smart and sustainable shopping experience, towards better choices for the environment, the community and themselves. 

Throughout the program, we supported these brilliant minds with the tools needed to develop their businesses through a tailor-made curriculum, training, and mentorship. The participants also had a virtual ecosystem tour of the Kenyan market. The innovator understood the landscape and the various efforts being made by key entities in the circularity space, specifically in waste management. 


What’s Good Storytelling

“How do you stand out in the content creation industry? Be you! Bring your own unique stories and storytelling techniques to the scene so that you can remain memorable in people’s minds.”

– Trevor “TJ” The  Mentalyst, Photographer and Filmmaker

In a BBC media coverage, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) stated that Kenya’s media and entertainment industry was worth $1.8bn in 2015 and was expected to reach $3.3bn in 2019. The big question was whether people could really survive on this craft. The answer is Yes. People can make a living in this industry.

We had an amazing conversation for our #What’sGood series where we sat down with storytelling experts and creatives to debunk Kenya’s content creation industry. They discussed the explosion of the content creation industry. They shared about their content creation processes, the current trends, and the sustainability of the industry.

The content creation industry in Kenya is on the rise. However, financial support is needed to grow the industry as well as the public’s support through viewership of local content. As for the content creators, they need to embrace their uniqueness and forge their paths where the current industry does not provide them with one.

Watch the live conversation about this exciting topic on our YouTube channel here.

Fireside chat with Amadou Daffe

Moderator: What makes you get out of bed every morning?

Amadou: The fear that Africa won’t catch up with the rest of the world.

We were excited to host Amadou Daffe, CEO and co-founder of Gebeya Inc, for our first Fireside Chat of the year. Gebeya is one of our Mettā members and is a Pan-African online talent marketplace that identifies the best of African talent.

According to a 2019 article by WeeTracker, the Top 5 African countries with the highest number of online freelancers were Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Morocco, and Tunisia.

Kenya had a total of 18,042 online freelance workers, 14.08% deemed active. Kenya was the highest-ranking African country in the Global Internet Freelance Marketplace Overview for 2018 — coming in 15th place on the global rankings.

But how do African Countries currently rank in the global online freelance workforce? 

Amadou gave insight into the freelancing industry in Africa and how it measures up to other regions of the world. He noted that Africa’s competitive advantage is in its youthful and vibrant workforce compared to other continents. He also discussed the challenges the industry faces such as the negative attitude towards African labour — which is assumed to be acquired at a poor pay rate — and plausible solutions. 

Amadou also shared his life journey and experience working across different markets in Africa, specifically in Ethiopia & Kenya. He also shared his thoughts on how technology is shaping how we work and hire talent. 

Watch the live conversation on our YouTube channel to understand the growing freelancing space in Africa here.

What’s Good NGO – Private sector Drivers and Successes In Kenya

Can NGOs and the private sector collaborate? What possibilities do these interactions hold?

“Increased partnerships between non-governmental organizations and the private sector have been touted as the key to achieving more impactful development goals.

This was according to the findings of a report dubbed “Private Sector Partnerships for Sustainable Development: A Guide to NGO/CSO – Private Sector Collaboration in Kenya” by Finnish Development NGOs – Fingo.

We held a discussion around NGO-Private Sector Collaboration, in partnership with Fingo Power Bank, where we delved into the challenges, solutions, and successes around these possibilities. The discussion was supported by the Fingo report that describes in-depth the NGO-Private Sector plain in Kenya.

Though NGOs and the private sector have different working cultures, there are prospects of forming successful symbiotic relationships that result in a high return on investment.

Positive aspects of such partnerships include:

  • Financial support for the Private sector actor from the NGOs through grants or other financial resources.
  • Increased availability and access to various contacts, political influences and technical expertise from both parties.
  • Initiation of education, awareness, advocacy, and policy-making opportunities for the NGO by the Private sector actor.

We also hosted a Virtual Design Thinking Workshop on Collaboration Between NGOs & the Private Sector, With support from Fingo Power Bank, where we identified and mapped out different areas of collaboration between the two groups.

Find out how to achieve a successful NGO-Private sector collaboration from the live event conversation here.

What lessons have we learned so far?

We have derived key learnings from the initiatives we carry out at Mettā. Here are a few of the insights that have inspired our community to grow.


“Not all spaces in the creative industry, for example concerning race & gender, are meant for you. As a creative, understand the playing field & work towards creating a space that works to your advantage while still being aware of the limitations you may face.” 

– Muthoni Maingi, Head of Digital Strategy, Oxfam International


“Many entrepreneurs sell the big picture more instead of the business data. Entrepreneurs should learn to focus on data and use it as a backing for pitching and sales arguments. Data allows for a stronger argument than the big picture story.”

 – Amadou Daffe, CEO & Co-Founder, Gebeya Talent


“Principles of High Impact Partnerships:

1. Establish shared resources and their availability.

2. Commit to monitoring progress and continuously improving.

3.  Maintain stakeholder engagement, ownership and trust.

4. Establish motivation for partnerships.

5. Have a shared value & a common objective.

6. Commit to a joint plan of action.”

-Fingo Power Bank

We are not the only well of knowledge within our ecosystem. We have also learned a thing or two from our vibrant community.


“10 Skills to equip yourself as an entrepreneur 

1. Writing 

2. Community-building 

3. Storytelling 

4. Positioning 

5. Product ideation 

6. Focused consistency 

7. Selling 

8. Marketing 

9. Design Thinking 

10. Empathy”

-Janet Machuka, Founder, Africa Tweet Chat


“The best way to talk to customers – to find out their needs – is through one-on-one interviews. Create time and prioritize creating time to talk to people.”

 -The Workshop Event, Nairobi Garage


You must profile your company to meet the needs of investors. Have audited accounts and as you deal with investors, always have the investors’ deck ready. Be organized and know your business. 

-Bruce Lule, Founding Principal, Chandaria Capital

As we cross over into the second half of the year, we are eager to find out what is in store for us and our community. We will still work hard — being motivated by what drives us; our community — as we continue advancing other exciting capacity-building activities, and member engagements for the rest of the year.

Stay tuned!