Access to Finance

This pillar refers to funding required to support the successful operation of the national innovation ecosystem. This includes the production and commercialisation of the outputs of the knowledge economy. Financial resources are essential to the sustainability of a knowledge economy. Capital is necessary for the funding of the development of infrastructure, commercialisation operations, policy development and human capital development. Increasing the pool of funds available to stakeholders within the national innovation ecosystem is essential to the long-term success of the knowledge economy.
  • Current Context
  • Challenges
  • Opportunities

Kenya has a regulated financial services sector, made up of the banking, insurance, capital markets, pensions and SACCO sectors, which has grown significantly by assets size, capital base, and profitability.
The attraction of additional capital would increase the capacity to finance operations within the other pillars identified herein. It would also improve the capacity to access and compete in new markets by facilitating local and international payments.
A stable, secure and trusted financial services sector is essential to a strong knowledge economy.


Access to capital continues to be a major challenge to the growth and sustainability of innovation in the national innovation ecosystem.


The conventional investment assessment tools, especially at financial institutions, have proven to be unfairly skewed against innovation. Lack of formality, minimal collateral, limited understanding of the segment by financial institutions and limited capacity of the management teams are some of the reasons why innovation-based enterprises have failed to secure funding within the ecosystem.


Capital markets have recorded a significant decline in foreign investors’ participation.


The microfinance banks remain vulnerable to shocks, with the sector yet to record meaningful profits in the five-year period that was under review in the report.


There is about a USD19.3 billion formal MSME finance gap in Kenya.

Systemic Innovation Funding

Financial resources are required to enable investments into early-stage startup funding, commercialization grants, infrastructure, development of innovation policies, access to markets and investments into human capital. This challenge offers an opportunity to establish an innovation funding program that is supported by the private sector to make available the financial resources for priority national innovation ecosystem initiatives.

Investment Assessments

The national innovation funding program could adopt new ways to meet the demand of this unique client segment. Firstly, the program could implement an alternative credit scoring method that would take into consideration aspects unique to an invention. Secondly, the program could explore offering nonfinancial support that would improve the readiness and capacity of the innovator to attract and manage financial investment.

Adoption of Technology Channels

The program should also adopt appropriate technology channels that could improve the engagement with ecosystem stakeholders, evaluation of potential clients and disbursement of funds that are best suited for the local context.

What We're Doing

Projects Under the Access to Finance Pillar