Getting to know technology talents in Kenya - through a cross-country hackathon series in digital design.

From Kenya's capital and metropolis Nairobi to Kenya's east western economic centre of Kisumu on the shores of Lake Victoria to Kenya's coastline city Mombasa – the Design Hackathon Kenya series brought together entrepreneurial talents and tech-savvy problem solvers from all over the country. This was an adventure for the Garage48 crew as we reached Kenya for the third time.


Visiting each location and hackathon was unique as the participants and the local challenges shaped the atmosphere and the dynamic of the event.

Throughout the design hackathon series, we met 90 participants at our three events. No matter the location, all these young people shared the passion to tackle the challenges Kenyans face in their everyday lives and adopt digital technologies as the means to make changes happen.

We met our third group of inspired techies at the Design Hackathon in Mombasa – the former capital and third largest city in Kenya. It's located on the Indian Ocean's coast and faces India across the ocean. The city has beautiful beaches, so no wonder one of its main economic activities is tourism. Mombasa has also long served as a major trading hub for not just Kenya, but also Uganda, Tanzania, and the island of Zanzibar.

What made Mombasa stand out to us compared to Nairobi and Kisumi were the ocean views, relaxed vibe, and the celebration of many cultures that bring each corner of the city alive in a different way. For example, we woke up at 5 AM with the Muslim dawn prayer, went shopping for markers in an Indian office supplies shop, and had late afternoon Turkish coffee after another event day was done.

The view of the ocean from Mombasa.

Mombasa was the third and final location of the #euafricathejourney2021 Design Hackathon Kenya roadshow. We held a four-day design prototyping event in collaboration with Swahilipot Hub on Sept 28th – October 1st.

Swahilipot Hub Foundation is a not-for-profit organization and a hub that focuses on nurturing entrepreneurs and creatives. They bring together tech and creative communities, entrepreneurs, and investors to share knowledge and mentor. The hub is located in the Swahili Cultural Centre in Mombasa and hosts a space for technology, creativity, and heritage through various collaborations and events. During our stay there for the Design Hackathon Mombasa, we experienced a film school, local artists’ pop-up gallery, and a local dance-off between our hackathon participants after the finals happened. According to our local organizing team members, this is just a quiet period due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Participants dance after the hackathon finals. 


The participants

The participants worked on a variety of ideas at the hackathon. All of them got the opportunity to move on to EU: Africa The Journey 2021 after the four-day design hackathon.

Meet the teams:

TWENDE application brings together various ride-sharing applications to solve the problems of fluctuating prices, drivers unreliability and unsafe rides.

Team Twende after their final demo. 

Team members: Rahima J. Serown, Said Abdallah, Mutida, Collins Ochieng.


SMARTKAT is a smart grocery trolley cart with a shopping application to avoid queuing at the store.

Team SmartKat after their final demo. 

Team members: Opata Hayanga, Eugene Makokha, Diana Kadzo, Zamzam Abdi, Khadija Shaffi, Shirley Wandera.

TEMPSAFE is an automatic air conditioner regulator that provides consistent air temperature for people with adverse health conditions.

Team TempSafe. 

Team members: Fredrick Juma, Isaac Wanyonyi, Fahad Musa-Head of Technical/Design, Johnes Mecha, Jacob.

FOOM socializing platform brings people together again to reduce loneliness caused by modern life and bridges the gap between more time and fewer opportunities for new experiences.

Team Foom enjoying a pizza after all the hard work. 

Team members: Fatma Bok , Fatma Omar, Raphile Wahome, Mahfud Omar, Nahom Tsegaye.

AMSY communication platform is a communication and task management tool for organisations and companies to improve the efficiency of their teamwork processes.

Team members: Maryam Jamal, Abdallah Hussein, Diana Majala, Watson Kiagano, Gitonga Mwangi, Stephen Waithaka.

We also saw: a financial education platform for kids, a secure messaging application, an online platform to support refugees seeking asylum, a local community application for skills sharing and volunteer work, a mental health application for men, another education application, a language learning app for the traditional languages in Kenya, an agricultural knowledgebase and toolkit, a way to order medicine via phone, and an application connecting lunch eating places in a city, a navigation application that considers traffic jams and offers alternative routes.

With the design hackathon roadshow wrapped up for this year, we’re excited to welcome the teams to #euafricathejourney21. Until next time, Kenya!

The program is organized in collaboration and with the financing of the Estonia Ministry of Foreign Affairs Development Cooperation. The design hackathons are organised in partnership with Pangea Accelerator in Nairobi, Lakehub in Kisumu and Swahilipot Hub in Mombasa.

About the author

kadri tiisvelt

Kadri is the COO of Garage48 with years of experience as a hackathon organizer and community builder. She loves to create and bring together supportive environments for starting entrepreneurs who wish to make their ideas into valuable services and products. 🌸

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