Gearbox is an open space for makers that launched in May 2015 as an offshoot of Nairobi’s iHub. Its aim is to create a unique space for members to showcase innovative ideas, share skills and build capacity while integrating hardware skills with the vast software expertise available in Kenya.

To advance this vision, Gearbox’s executive director Dr. Kamau Gachigi announced the launch Gearbox Lite, a platform for electronics, hardware and technology enthusiasts to access equipment, tools, knowledge, advice, incubation and funding.

“This is done on a membership basis, with sharing of space and equipment, much like a gym. It is the first time this is being done in Africa, and the concept is also emerging in industrialised nations,” Dr. Gachigi said.

Gearbox Lite will start with an initial cohort of seven companies, among them energy company Clean Star, tracking company Gag, solar energy firm Strauss Energy, logistics and analytics firm Sure Telematics, soil measuring and analysis firm Ujuzi Kilimo, Sasalog Technologies which provides low-cost Point of Sale terminals to small businesses, and Electrotel, which designs circuits for speed governors.

The organisation is already running a hardware accelerator for 10 startups alongside Village Capital.

Gearbox Lite will cater to the needs of the seven companies making up the first cohort exclusively for three months, after which the programme will be open to the public.

“At that point interested people will be invited to take up membership at Gearbox which will provide them access to our tools and equipment. We plan to demonstrate that local companies can be launched which create and sell sophisticated products that are normally associated with knowledge based economies. This is a significant step for Kenya,” added Dr. Gachigi.

Feature image: Gearbox

Eric Mugendi Author

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