What started as a satirical tweet by Truehost Cloud has ended up as a Tweet with a life of its own, drawing anger and amusement at the same time from thousands of people. The tweet was an advert for a CEO position, giving funny requirements such as height, gender, skin color, young age with long experience, as well as usual traits such as team player.
The initial reaction was just laughter and amusement among the people who know the start-up and the tone of the twitter account, but as soon as it was shared by more people, anger started showing up. What was wrong with the post? Or better, what made some people angry?
The CEO was supposed to be white.
While this was supposed to be a joke (and Truehost Cloud is not hiring a CEO), there is another side of Kenya start-ups that comes to light. An analysis of start-ups Kenyan start-ups that received funding from global VCs brings it to light.
The Kenyan Start-Up Ecosystem
2018 was a great year for Kenyan tech start-ups, which led Africa in terms of funding. In total, these raised KES 34.8 billion ($348m) in funding, more than their peers in Nigeria and South Africa. The list of these start-ups are:
- Tala (Sh5bn)
- Cellulant (Sh4.75bn)
- Dlight (Sh4.1bn)
- Branch (Sh2bn)
- Twiga Foods (Sh1bn)
- MKopa (Sh1bn)
- Africa’s Talking (Sh862m)
- Lori Systems (Sh617m)
- Mobius (Sh600m)
- BitPesa (Sh500m)
- WeFarm (Sh500m)
One of the striking features in all these start-ups is the presence of white CEOs or founders in all but two of them (Cellulant and Africa’s Talking). Have a look at these visuals.
While there could be many ways of explaining this, it is a poorly kept secret that money always follows white founders/CEOs. A running joke among startups is that all you need to make it rain money is an office in one of the posh Nairobi buildings, and have a white co-founder/CEO. It is for this reason that a white CEO requirement might not be a far-fetched idea for start-ups in Africa. Racism lives on.