In this week’s edition of AfriLab’s hub featuring innovation centres across Africa, we visited Mali, where we had a chat with Mohamed Keita, the founder of Impact Hub Bamako.
Mohamed Keita is a Malian investor and entrepreneur with a passion for everything related to the development of essential local products, services and social innovation.
Over the past fifteen years, he has supported many Malian SMEs and startups in their growth project.
As explained by the founder, the main reason for the creation of Impact Hub Bamako is to provide a response to the endemic unemployment problem encountered by Malian youth, with an approach focused on promoting entrepreneurship.
In achieving the hub’s mission and vision, Keita stated, “we have designed and executed various support programs, acceleration, incubation, hackathon, in partnership with various public and private institutional players.”
Innovation and entrepreneurship
On how hubs foster innovation and entrepreneurship in their local communities, Keita noted that innovation centres promote the two concepts for communities thanks to the various opportunities they offer, particularly in terms of training, coaching, mentoring, networking and project financing.
While on the state of innovation and entrepreneurship in Mali, Keita said that technological and social innovation is still at an embryonic stage in the country.
“Even if we observe disruptive approaches in sectors such as financial services and agriculture for example.
Many obstacles remain as obstacles to the rapid development of technology companies, such as the lack of qualified human resources, access to a reliable and low-cost internet connection, lack of affordable energy and access to finance.”
STEM Reception in Mali
As explained by Keita, Mali is a country that has set some milestones in the STEM field, in particular through Robots Mali, which is the National Center for Education in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence.
“The center regularly participates in African competitions dedicated to STEM. By making a collective effort in setting up laboratories in schools from the primary cycle, we can participate in a better promotion of technological innovation locally”
As regards women’s participation in technology, the founder noted that their participation is unfortunately still very low in Mali, and to involve them more, they must focus on science education for them from an early age.
Challenges and milestones
The main challenge encountered in the development of Impact Hub Bamako is the lack of material and financial resources as well as the poor popularization of a true entrepreneurial culture.
On Impact Hub Bamako’s milestones, Keita said, “The most important step was building a strong team capable of pursuing our initial vision.
Today the hub is a real local institution, whose work and experience are appreciated by all the actors concerned by the issue of the development of Malian SMEs and startups.”
Government and AfriLabs’ role
On how the government can support hubs in Mali, Keita said that, the government can contribute to the development of hubs by launching new tax rules for the development of technology companies and also make this effort with regard to investors in this sector.
On AfriLabs’ role, the founder said the organization has allowed Impact Hub Bamako to develop its network through other African hubs, and even to forge partnerships and collaboration.
“Also we have access to important resources such as training and events such as annual meetings which allow us to share very useful experiences.”, he concluded
Featured Image: Mohamed Keita, Founder, Impact Hub Bamako