When Emmanuel Mbungu was shortlisted by the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service to pursue a degree in Economics and Finance at Kenyatta University, he thought his dream of studying Computer Science was dead. His mother was the only breadwinner of the family, so Emmanuel had no option of joining a self-sponsored programme at the university.
“After high school, I really wanted to pursue a course in Computer Science, I was fascinated with how technology could solve so many problems. This was after I was introduced to computers in high school. However, I missed out on doing Computer Science by a few points, I had to settle for the course I had been called to undertake,” says the 24-year-old.
The more Emmanuel attended finance classes, the more he was convinced that was not where his heart was.
Each day after his economics classes, which mostly took an average of six to eight hours a day, Emmanuel would borrow a friend’s laptop and rush to the university library where he downloaded and watched tutorials on computer programming.
“I would find time to practise what I learnt at night or the following day then make use of the books on programming I borrowed from the library,” he narrates.At the same time, he saved part of the money got from the Higher Education and Loans Board (Helb) as well as money earned from his paid internship during the long holidays to buy a laptop.“I now had the perfect tool to take me to the next level,” he says. Today, Emmanuel is the founder of Technet-Kenya, a two-year-old registered limited company with a mission to help small and Medium enterprises in Kenya with their web strategy.
“We help SMEs build interactive, engaging and mobile- friendly websites that uses current trends and technologies. We also train them how to use their website and any other online platform for their online marketing,” he says.
His friend’s experience led him to launch the company.
“A friend of mine approached me furious at how he had paid a huge chunk of his budget to a developer to come up with a website for his small businesss, only for the developer to deliver an outdated website.
The website was not responsive to any device that was smaller than a laptop, it wasn’t easy to use by most of his clients and, therefore, never served any purpose for his business. That is when I realised that there was a market gap that needed to be bridged,” he explains. He did extensive market research and found there was a need to come up with a customised and modern product for SMEs and one that is affordable since capital is one of the biggest challenges of young SMEs.
His initial investment of Sh40,000 was used to purchase his first laptop while in the University as capital.
He owes his added knowledge of Computer Science to the various trainings he attended after graduating from university.
“After completing university, I attended an entrepreneurship academy organised by an NGO in Kenya called Aiducation in partnership with a re -insurance company called Swiss Re. After the one-week session, I was able to come up with a business plan and a strategy for starting and growing Technet-Kenya. I got an opportunity to pitch the idea to investors from the Swiss Re insurance company and got a venture capital to help me turn the idea into real business,” he says.
With the grant, he was able to purchase necessary equipment, furniture and secure an office space for the company.
He says other than capital, there have been many sleepless nights spent on developing and executing market strategies in a bid to build a strong brand.
Their affordable and customised services, he says are what makes Technet-Kenya stand out.