Julian & Josphat with Mayor Bloomberg of New York

In an announcement made yesterday on 7th/Feb/2013 at the IBM Smart Camp Global finals in New York, MODE a mobile micro credit firm from Kenya was awarded the Global Entrepreneur of The Year. IBM Smart Camp was launched in 2010 with a goal to identify early-stage entrepreneurs who are developing business ventures that align with the IBM Smarter Planet vision, and give them the visibility, mentoring, and resources that only a large company like IBM can provide. Eligible startups apply to local Smart Camp events in cities all around the world and just a handful are selected to compete in each local or “Kickstart” SmartCamp event. The winners of the Kickstarts then move on to Regional Finals, and the Regional winners move on to the big event, the SmartCamp Global Finals.

MODE was among this year’s Global Smart Camp finalists being the only non-Latin American startup from the Smart Camp Regional’s in Brazil after winning the kick start event in Cape Town, South Africa in October, 2012.

“MODE goes to the heart of what it means to make the planet smarter by providing a solution and helping out people who had nowhere else to look, MODE is making a difference.” Remarked Jim Corgel the IBM General Manager of ISV and Developer Relations.

“You’ve heard of micro-finance, well we operate at a level below that ,we call it nano-financing,” said Julian Kyula, group CEO and co-founder of MODE. “We have customers who may only need to borrow as much as $20.”

Josphat Kinyua, group commercial director and co-founder of MODE said to date the company has facilitated more than 200 million transactions in the five African countries where it has operations, which has helped mobile network providers such as Airtel and MTN to increase both subscriber revenues and talk time on their networks. Kinyua said MODE is about to enter another five countries as demand for its services continues to grow.

“One thing we have to deal with is the issue of companies wondering whether they can rely on a company based in Nairobi,” Kyula said. “Of course they can. But that’s where working with a big name like IBM comes in handy.”

The Award was presented to Julian Kyula, Group CEO and his Co-founder Josphat Kinyua by the IBM SmartCamp founder Martin Kelly.

2013 Smart Camp global finalists

The Smart Camp global finalists met in New York City over the three-day final competition from February 5-7th 2013, they attended workshops, worked with knowledgeable mentors, and presented their business pitches in a public session where they were judged by a panel of experts and a winner was announced. The 8 finalists were winners from Smart Camps events around the world and went head to head with their business plans and solutions to compete for the coveted world title ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’. Here are the other finalists:

SkyFoundry (Winner–North American Final)

StreetLight Data (Winner–North American Final)

HistoIndex (Winner–Asian Final)

QuintessenceLabs (Winner–Asian Final)


CaptainDash (Winner–European Final)

Poikos (Winner–European Final)

GetWay (Winner–Latin American Final)

MODE (Winner–Latin American Final)


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Nthenya Masyuko

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