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ナイロビをHACKした #1

City of Nairobi


Last year, I was in Nairobi, Kenya for the first time. I have some Kenyan friends from grad school but unfortunately, most of them are globetrotters like me and busy dealing with business and diplomatic affairs so I was basically on my own.

Wherever I travel, I always to try connected with locals and get around with locals, and my Nairobi travel was no exception. Nairobi’s infrastructure is still quite informal, but thanks to technology, I was able to #hack Nairobi.

First off, to figure out a place to stay I used Couchsurfing and found an amazing local host, a family of a lawyer mom, a pre-school kid, and a Tanzanian caretaker in the suburb of Nairobi called Kasarani. It was a great introduction to a local lifestyle of a Nairobian professional of the emerging middle class: I commuted to the city (the picture was taken at the city center near a bus stop) every day using a local bus called Matatu with fellow Nairobian commuters, ate homemade local meals, and hang out with my host’s cousin at a local pub over bottled beer that always come in a pair (let me talk about that in the later post…).

If you were in Nairobi a couple of years ago, you would probably have no idea how to get around using local buses because the network was quite informal. But don’t you worry – now thanks to the #DigitalMatatus project (powered, I believe, by MIT/Google) now all the then-informal network is available digitally and on Google Map. Now all you need is a smartphone and a local sim both of which you can get quite easily at low cost!

Stay tuned for more hacks…










I was in Miyagi and Iwate for the first time after the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. It was completely a private trip that I had to take due my family’s plan, but I had this weird feeling that “I have to DO SOMETHING.”

I always have a self-conflicting moment wherever I have this feeling. A philanthropic and altruistic self is on this suddenly-emerging unknown mission to “help” people who are still recovering from various challenges aftermath the earthquake. On the other hand, rather sarcastic and practical self is hating my other self “trying to help.”

I am quite familiar with this feeling. Since I began to be aware of the professional field of international development (probably in high school), I’ve always had this feeling that I want to do something to address challenges in less developed countries especially when the motif of action comes out of sympathy. And I do not like it because sympathy does not last. Sympathy is not sustainable.

One thing that I am absolutely confident about my business Maki & Mpho is that this will sustain at least so long as founders live. It will sustain not because of our business model, because such thing will change, but because our premise is about creating more happiness rather than mitigating sadness or misery.

We focus on creativity and multiply that positive energy to bring social, economic, and cultural prosperity. We focus on entrepreneurs who already see the positive side of things because we believe that is more effective and efficient. We want to create a model that is similar to what Endeavor does: They focus on high-impacting entrepreneurs who are already making a difference to multiply the impact.

I personally focus on and work with African creators and innovators to share more positive stories from the African continent. I focus on the positive side not because I don’t see any problems but I believe that positive stories can bring a virtuous cycle to attract more people, capital, and other resources to the African continent.




今取り組んでいるMaki & Mphoのビジネスに関して、一つ確信をもっていえるのは、我々創業者が生き続ける限り継続性があるということです。ビジネスモデルなどは変化に対応していくので、それは本質でなく、アフリカビジネスにおける前提的なコンセプトが、それを可能にすると考えています。つまり、私たちは悲しみや困難の解決ではなく、幸福感の増大に焦点をおいていることが重要なのです。






When you Google Rwanda (in Japanese), the top results are mostly about genocide(esp. image results). While many Rwandans I met in Kigali have already moved on (of course, some may consider the “talk” as a taboo) and are celebrating the new era of entrepreneurship and economic prosperities, many “outsiders” still seem to be hoping to talk about one of the saddest events in the history of humankind.

While I don’t suggest us to forget the event, I also want to help non-Rwandans to see something more about Rwanda based on my first-hand experience in Kigali last September and second-hand research of reliable sources.

If you have no idea about the city of Kigali or only have know about the genocide or gorillas, you would definitely have the 180 experience. To me, Kigali is one of the most non-local friendly cities.

  • You can be mobile using motorcycle taxis. (And you won’t have one of those crazy situations where you see too many passengers on a single moto – Kigali only allows one passenger on a moto and the helmet is obligatory. You also have a new great Uber-like service called SafeMotos, a startup my friend started.)
  • You feel completely safe even at night. (To be honest, I love-loved how we can go up/down hilly roads at night feeling the air! – Okay, that might be a bit too much adventure for some of you.)
  • You can jog around the hilly road and get some exercise.
  • You will get gigantic avocados at local markets for nothing.
  • And more importantly, you have a vibrant entrepreneurial community which is a mix of local and international entrepreneurs. (More to be shared in upcoming blog posts.)

While I personally love Nairobi’s much larger entrepreneurial community, I definitely recommend people to visit Kigali especially if you have never been to any cities in the African continent.




  • モータータクシーでどこにもいけます!(しかもたまにアジアなどで見かける1台に何人も乗っている状態ではないです。キガリではそれは禁じられていて、ヘルメットもマスト。たまたまボストンで出会った知人が始めたベンチャーですが、アプリで呼べて手軽なウーバーのようなサービスSafeMotosも活躍しています。)
  • 夜でも危険を感じることはありません。(実際、私はバイクタクシーで夜風を受けながら、丘陵地帯の道を駆け抜けるのがすごく好きでした!これは全員にはおすすめできないかもですが。。)
  • 外をランニングできます!(こういうことはできないアフリカの都市も多いので。。。)
  • 巨大なアボカドが激安です。
  • それからもっと重要なことに、ローカルと外国人が入り交じったわくわくするような起業家コミュニティもあります。(詳しくはまた後日ご紹介します)






I believe that the bright future of the African continent is summarized into one word: Leapfrog. It is not just The Economist that talked about Africa as “The leapfrog continent“: I came across a number of examples where African innovators do leapfrog when I was researching emerging market businesses in the grad school in the US.

The leading example is the mobile phone technology. According to GSMA Intelligence, the unique mobile penetration rate in African as of 2015 is 46% and is expected to grow by 54% by 2020. You may think that the rate could be higher, but the power of mobile phones is beyond communication: Mobile phone technology is delivering financial inclusion to the unbanked populations in 42 countries in Africa via 157 service providers as of June 2016 according to the same source. This means that some Africans can go directly from cash transaction to mobile money by leveraging the latest and affordable technology.

Leapfrogging, I believe, can apply to Africa’s creative class as well. By leveraging the latest and affordable technologies such as digital printing, social media, and internet (yeap, no more capital I), Africans can realize their creative ideas without much infrastructure or can easily access to infrastructure elsewhere.

Africa may still luck key infrastructures to address basic human needs, but by means of leapfrogging, I believe that Africans can rather quickly build globally-competitive businesses. And that’s what I’m trying to realize with Mpho and fellow African creators, and that’s why it is absolutely crucial for us to create an African business that is born global.







Africa Nouveau


Last year, I was traveling around a number of cities in Southeast Africa including Nairobi, Kigali, Addis, Joburg, and Capetown. But I have to say, by far, Nairobi was the most entrepreneurial and creative city among them.

I was lucky to see cultural/creative events in consecutive weekends, and I met so many creative entrepreneurs there! One of the events was called Africa Nouveau, which was started by a musician, Muthoni Ndonga, who wanted to address the lack of platforms for artists, musicians, and other creators to showcase their creative work and started an event called Blankets & Wine, a previous format of Africa Nouveau. As the name of the event suggests, it is basically an opportunity for Nairobians to hang out in the park with blankets and wine while enjoying local designers, musicians, creators, and artists showcase and perform their work.

Such event is also the best way to meet up with many creatives at once – you basically meet all key people there! I had an amazing fun while efficiently getting know many creators in the area.

Do check out their website for more info!!


ちょうど滞在中、2週間連続でカルチャー・クリエティブ系のイベントに参加できたのもラッキーで、そこで多くのクリエイティブ起業家と出会いました!その一つがAfrica Nouveauというもので、自身もミュージシャンであるMuthoni Ndongaが、アーティストやミュージシャン、クリエイターらが自身のワークを発表する場がないということに機会を見出だして、もともとBlankets & Wineというかたちで始めたイベントでした。Blankets & Wineは、その名のとおり、ナイロビの若者がブランケットとワインを持ち寄ってパークに集まって、地元デザイナー、ミュージシャン、クリエイター、アーティストなどの展示やショーを楽しむというイベントです。


Blankets & Wineのカッコイイウェブサイトもぜひみてください!



The African Renaissance: It is time for Africans to take ownership of their own culture and bring it to the global audience.

This is the fundamental philosophy of my business partner, Mpho Muendane. Often portrayed as the last frontier, some people see the African continent as the place where things are lacking. But it is not necessarily true.

Africa is about abundance. It is about richness. That’s what Mpho wants to show to the world using her artwork. And more importantly, it is not just her who wants to do that – there are many creators who are expressing their voices to show the world the richness and diversity of the African culture.

Here’s a website where you can browse some of them! Enjoy!!!






Textile Afrika_Maki & Mpho

So let me start with WHY I do what I do.
I want to help people see Africa differently.

In order to do so, I focus on creators who can tell the stories of Africa’s modernity and its diverse culture using their creativity, art, design, and other forms of expression.

Together with African creators, I build a globally-competitive design brand that champions Africa’s creative talents and inspires the global audience.

I don’t help Africans. Africans don’t need help.
The world needs help from Africa to get inspired, educated, and excited.

Our company, Maki & Mpho, is just another catalyst, amongst others, to make it happen.
Let’s work together to make it happen!





私たちMaki & Mphoは、そういった未来の実現のための、いちプレーヤーにすぎませんが、皆様ぜひ一緒に、アフリカ、日本、そして世界のわくわくするような未来を実現していきましょう!



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