Investors give Ushahidi founders Sh105m to assemble modems
A Kenyan technology firm, BRCK, has secured Sh105.5 million ($1.2 million) from foreign investors to expand its local and international operations.
BRCK manufactures routers and modems going by the brand name BRCKs that enable users to access Wifi Internet especially in remote areas.
Juliana Rotich and Erik Hersman, the founders of Ushahidi and iHub are some of the key people behind the company, serving as chairperson and chief executive respectively.
The firm said that the money will be used for labour and production costs.
“Production will begin next week and we will ship the BRCKs to 45 destinations globally,” Mr Hersman told the Business Daily.
The high manufacturing costs in the local market have forced BRCK to assemble the routers and modems in the US despite the company being located in iHub, Nairobi.
BRCK raised the seed fund from Omvestments, Urban.us, Cheryl Heller and Gary Scheft of CommonWise LLC, Synergy Growth and Invested Development investors.
Invested Development, a fund manager, said what attracted firms to the start-up was its target market of users located in areas that are served by intermittent connectivity, which is the norm in many developing markets.
“The potential impact and scale of this company made it an easy investment decision. BRCK uses technology to solve problems where there is a significant market gap,” said managing director Miguel Granier.
INCREASE IN USERS
Data from the Communications Authority of Kenya, the industry regulator, shows that Kenya has 21.2 million Internet users, translating to a 52.3 per cent penetration that leaves room for growth.
A year earlier, Internet users stood at 16.2 million or 41.1 per cent of the population and the regulator said that the increase in users has been helped by service providers lowering prices.
“This growth could have been as a result of increased uptake of ICTs that have catered to both social and economic needs and activities of the users,” it said in its last quarter report.
Most of these users access the Internet through wireless connections, which is the market that BRCK is targeting.
Invested Development also noted that 65 per cent of Internet access in emerging markets is through wireless networks that provide a ready market for BRCK.
Invested Development has also invested in iProcure, another Kenyan IT firm, for an undisclosed amount in a deal announced in June.