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uk-kenya tech hub

Startup-SME Linkage Program 2.0

Providing tech startups direct linkages to SMEs

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, Metta alongside the UK-Kenya Tech Hub are excited to extend the program to benefit more startups and SMEs.

In this 2021 program referred to as the Startup-SME Linkage Program 2.0 (SSL 2.0) we will provide tech startups and SMEs with direct linkages to one another, and a collaboration playbook aimed at helping them increase their partnership and commercial deal rates.

Startups and SMEs from across the country are encouraged to apply for this program.


Success Stories

Here are some of the successful partnerships that were formed during the Startup-SME Linkage pilot program in 2020.

corporate innovation service

About The Program

Metta in partnership with the UK-Kenya Tech Hub presents the Startup-SME linkage program 2.0 aimed at providing tech startups direct linkages to SMEs which fall under their target customers for a chance to secure a commercial deal.

The program will require selected startups to present/demo their solutions to SMEs in a digital live marketplace for a partnership or commercialization deal.


Who Should Apply?


We are looking for post-revenue startups with practical solutions that can help SMEs solve their existing problems. Female-led startups are highly encouraged to apply.

Startups Criteria:

  1. Should be open to collaboration.
  2. Should be a registered entity.
  3. Must be a tech-driven startup.
  4. Should have active users on their platform: demonstrate use cases.
  5. Offer valid solutions in the thematic areas identified.

1. The program is sector agnostic i.e. we welcome applications from all sectors and those run by women.
2. Selection will be heavily based on our capacity to fulfill your needs and desired pairings in the deal room sessions.
3. In case of any questions, feel free to reach us on


We are looking for SMEs that are open for a commercial and/or partnership deal with innovative post-revenue tech startups operating in verticals such as HR, customer experience, digital marketing, agriculture, health, logistics, clean energy, e-commerce among others.

Sample challenges could include: disrupted sales, logistics inefficiencies, poor website engagement and e-commerce conversion rate…etc

SME Criteria:

  1. Proof of product adoption in the market.
  2. Should be a registered entity.
  3. Willingness to adopt and leverage tech solutions.
  4. Willingness to open its network to startups.
Why Participate?

Benefits of The Program

1. 4 free masterclasses modeled on the Deal Making Design Framework.
2. Access to practical templates for deal-making.
3. Participation in the Deal Rooms with potential clients and service providers.
4. Business feature on the Metta and UK-Kenya Tech networks.


What qualifies as a Startup and SME?

In this program, we define a startup and SMEs through the following lens:

An SME is a self-sustaining company with a monthly turnover of over Ksh. 500,000, and has existed for over 5 years. The SME could operate in tech or non-tech front but generally has more stability through a proven business model and well-known products to known customers in known local markets.

A startup, on the other hand, would have existed less than 5 years, and characterized by a “move fast, break things” culture and predominantly operate in the tech front with the sole goal of innovating above market standards.


Program timelines

Application Window – 11th January 2021 to 16th February 2021.

Application Feedback – 17th February 2021 to 19th February 2021.

Training – 23rd February 2021 to 5th March 2021.

Market Place Sessions – 8th March 2021 to 28th March 2021

Debrief Sessions – 29th March 2021 to 31st March 2021.

Kindly note these dates are based on estimates and might change


As a participant, what is required?

  1. All participants are required to attend at least 2 (1.5hrs max) trainings to proceed to the deal room.
  2. All participants are required to honour all their allocated business pairs in the deal room.
  3. 2 hours between 8th March and 28th March).
  4. All participants must be willing to detail their progress from the deal rooms and to be featured in the case studies

For a startup, you must have a deck (less than 10 slides) showcasing your products/services, and be willing to customize the value proposition to your prospective matched SME(s) where applicable.

SME representatives must be willing to submit some of their pain points and or new horizon opportunities that they are interested in beforehand to allow for suitable matchmaking. The SME must also avail some of its key decision-makers in the Market Place Sessions to assess synergies, commercial or partnership opportunities, and sign off on deals.

aim of program

Our Goal

What we want to achieve:

Create a platform for the participating companies to discuss partnership and commercial deal opportunities

Help the participating companies to come up with a commercial or partnership deal tracked over a period of 6 to 12 months.

Spark a collaborative culture between SMEs and Startups that yield innovative, and valuable solutions, which also promotes cooperation and the collective movement towards a better future by creating better goods and services.


How does success look like?

We will try to connect the participating startups with as many relevant SMEs that fit under their prospective clients’ catalog and vice versa. We will also provide an enabling environment (guidance and resources) where possible to facilitate more partnership or commercial deals. Our hope is that every participant within the program will be able to at least secure 1 deal through this virtual pop up market place.