While earning an MBA at Harvard in 2008, Karibu Nyaggah led a student trip to his home country of Kenya. It was a chance to show his fellow classmates the innovative spirit of Kenya as well as the challenges that still exist in Africa. During the trip he met Courtney Mills, a fellow Christian and Harvard grad student who was researching sustainable solutions to poverty. She envisioned creating an accelerator program for startup entrepreneurs in Kenya. Together they dreamed how the accelerator could advance God’s Kingdom in a practical way while alleviating poverty.
The following year Harvard funded Courtney Mills and Matt Stolhandske to research the viability of launching an early stage accelerator program in Nairobi. They saw the need to train entrepreneurs how to grow successful businesses but also how to navigate corrupt and unethical marketplaces and how to integrate their faith with their business.
They called this idea Sinapis after the Latin name for the mustard seed that Jesus spoke about, which starts out small yet grows to be great and support the life around it (Mark 4:31-32). Sinapis launched in 2010 as a small accelerator and has grown to include an MBA-like training academy and local workshops.
In 2017, Sinapis launched its first partnerships outside of Kenya with Innohub in Ghana and Bluefields Development in Brazil. The addition of Sinapis’ curriculum allowed these partners to deepen their training and serve a broader range of entrepreneurs.
By 2018, Sinapis had trained 1,096 entrepreneurs via the academy and 2,407 via workshops across Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, and Brazil. With a goal of training 10,000 entrepreneurs, Sinapis plans expansion into new countries and with new programs in the years to come.