In 2017, Derrick Mugendi experienced a period of deep personal reflection. He realised that a major problem facing the youth in Kenya is that they have a lot of ideas but do not have adequate funding, while investors have funds but do not know how to invest them outside of traditional asset classes. He came up with the idea to create an app that will connect young entrepreneurs to investors. He reached out to his childhood friends, Nicholas Njogu and Alvin Amani and in 2019, Nicholas started writing code to actualise the idea into an application.
In a few months, the first version of the InvestApp based on Android was developed, but it was buggy. The faulty application was lost, but the trio got new wind when COVID-19 hit.
“We found a new outlook on how to approach the development of the App. Initially, we were going to do the mobile App, but with COVID-19 we decided to develop a web version first,” said Derrick.
The web version has two interfaces - the investors and entrepreneurs’ dashboard. The youth can log in to the platform and create an entrepreneur’s account where they specify the details of their venture including the cost estimation. The investor, on the other hand, logs in and specifies their tier; the amount they are willing to invest. The system matches the entrepreneurs needs to the investors' preferences and investments are tiered between USD 500 and USD 5,000.
Social distancing and lockdown measures meant that the team had to use virtual meeting apps to continue their discussions throughout the development process. This led them to innovate with InvestApp, and they incorporated a virtual meeting capability to help investors and entrepreneurs hold discussions with their teams virtually. The team helps youths by also ensuring that their ideas are protected by copyright or patent.
“I urge the youths first to identify their strengths and weaknesses and know that any idea can be worked on and capitalise it. Also, know that there is strength in sharing ideas and in numbers. For example, my friends are stronger in IT and programming while I am strong in law, especially in intellectual property law. These abilities enable us to successfully run the project”, said Derrick.
“I would encourage the youth, especially those that are tech enthusiasts, to develop their skills in programming. Myself I have learned a new skill in developing blockchain-based application. The sky is the limit”, said Nicholas.