Norwegian businesses explore private sectors’ potential to fight poverty in Nairobi

In the first week of June, the Innovation Norway Global Growth program focusing on the humanitarian and development market visited Nairobi, Kenya. The goal of the fieldtrip was to gain a deeper understanding of peoples’ needs and to get an idea of how innovation should be organized in the challenging humanitarian- and development market.

The companies visited the Kigabare slum area

The companies visited the Kigabare slum area

Foto: Innovation Norway

 Field trip to the Kigabare slum area

The 10 Norwegian companies visited Kigabare in collaboration with the Kenyan organization Young Women. Kigabare is a slum area in the outskirts of Nairobi where most of the inhabitants live in extreme poverty and in very poor living conditions.

 “We sell our products from Norway. To visit Kenya and to see that the local hospitals even in these poor communities use our products is overwhelming. Now I can see that what we do help improve the lives of people in Kenya”, says Maria Vangen Jordet, owner of Polynor. 


Maria Vangen Jordet, Polynor

Meetings with local businesses, stakeholders and multilateral organizations

The development aid and humanitarian market differs from the consumer market. Most products and solutions are procured through multilateral institutions, such as the World Bank and UN, in addition to non-governmental organizations. During the field trip to Nairobi the Norwegian Companies participated in approximately 100 meetings – individually and as a group.

On the first day of the trip 10 Norwegian companies were given an introduction by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in the World Bank on how they work with international companies in creating local value and jobs, investments in companies and entrepreneurial initiatives in refugee camps.

"We need Norwegian companies to partner up with us in our efforts to find innovative solutions to East Africa's economic and social challenges", says Interantional Finance Corporation (IFC) representative. The IFC will continue the exiting discussions with several of the Norwegian companies.

The delegation also visited the UN Campus in Nairobi and pitched their solutions towards procurement officials in various UN agencies and follow-up meetings were established among companies and some of the agencies. A reception was also hosted by the Norwegian Embassy where UN representatives and the Norwegian business community in Kenya attended.


Competence learning for businesses developing solutions that fights poverty

The fieldtrip to Nairobi was successful in enhancing the companies’ competence in approaching the humanitarian market. The fieldtrip to the slum area was also an eye-opener and gave deeper understanding of the complex challenges facing people living in extreme poverty. This knowledge is of great importance for further developing relevant and affordable solutions that are fit for this market.

“This has been a great experience, and the collaboration with Innovation Norway in Nairobi and the Global Growth Program has given our company many great possibilities. It has been very educational getting this close to another culture”, says Christian Olavesen, CEO of Ecocube

 “A very educational week with many powerful impressions in Nairobi has come to an end. Through Innovation Norway’s Global Growth Program 10 Norwegian companies have visited local hospitals and the slum area in Nairobi. What to say.. smiling children and a warm welcome from people who experience hunger, rapes and harassment every day. A big thanks to Innovation Norway who made this possible”, says Astrid Skreosen, CEO of Asap Norway.