*iHub_ : A Growing Community

By Jimmy Gitonga
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In March 2010, the *iHub_ was first conceived as a “space” that was found at the fourth floor of Bishop Magua house. Initially, Erik Hersman, the founder, thought the space was too big. In 2 months, it was too small.

With the growth of technology and the explosion of innovation, the community expanded significantly. We organised around the space as much as possible, but there comes a time … Currently we have 3 major challenges or situations.

  1. Our white members have passed 10,000. It is not practical to expect them to apply for green membership when the time comes. A true assessment of the potential of the projects presented by the applicants would be hard to get considering the time proper interviews would require. Secondly, the “other” category of members who are 36% of the overall membership, range from fashion designers interested in tech to the CEO who applied to receive tech news from the iWeekly. What does this group need beyond the “tech” menu we offer?
  1. The Green membership has worked well, with a number going off into the new ventures and others graduated to Red membership. For others, Green membership really became a prestigious badge and barely never used the space. Currently most of the green members who do use the space find it convenient to the extent that they would love to use the place perpetually.
  1. Red members mostly grew out of Green members. But for the "3 - 6" month window, most have not grown “out” of the iHub and are seeking to extend their stay. Some of these have added members to their projects or staff to their businesses, outgrowing the space.
So we have been looking at ways to change some things and enhance others in the White, Green and Red membership plans.

The *iHub_ 2.0

The community that has grown in and around the *iHub_ is transforming it. This community has relationships the corporate members and other hubs across Africa, not just the people who work for and with them. *iHub_, within it has growing communities that revolve around special interests such as education, design, gender balance in ICT, programming languages, frameworks and iHub’s own initiatives. The *iHub_ can target communication as well as have interactions with these interest groups within the community as well as corporate partners of the *iHub_. We are growing the center, from the 4th floor Bishop Magua house “space”, to the “site” online. The “space” itself is moving from where things happen, to the center of where things happen. We are moving the engagement with our community to one where we talk not only of the present but become the centre of ideas on the future of this region and across Africa.

*iHub_ Membership

Here are our current new plans for *iHub_ membership.

White Membership

This is and will be the first level of membership that ALL iHub members must go through. It is also the membership that the Green membership will default to after the the arranged period expires. Benefits
  • Weekly newsletter
  • Access to post on jobs board,
  • Entry into iHub space one day a week
  • Invitation to events at the iHub

Green Membership

Green membership will be offered to white members who apply for it. The prerequisite is that the member is involved in a project that has the following needs:
  1. The applicant needs a physical location to work out off
  2. The applicant needs to source for other developers and designers to join the project
  3. The project will grow, create a minimal viable product or service and is ready for help to scale
An applicant will make an appearance at the iHub Space, and be interviewed by the iHub Manager. A further interview would be arranged after a successful initial interview. After the specified period of Green membership (6 months) a Green member will automatically revert back to White Membership. However the Green member may make a request for extension from the iHub Advisory Board facilitated by the iHub manager. Benefits
  • All of the White membership benefits
  • Full access to the iHub Space
  • Publicly accessible web profile on the *iHub website
  • Invitation to Pivot East Competition
  • Use any of iHub Initiative’s services for non-commercial work
  • Access to iHub corporate partner events at the iHub

Red Membership

A Green member who has completed the 6 month period and has a minimum viable product or service will be in line for Red membership. However Red Membership requires one to pay Kshs.15,000 for a desk, and a locker. The membership will be for 12 months.

Benefits

  • All of the Green Membership benefits
  • Office service such photocopy and print at subsidised prices
  • Courier service with iHub Space as the Physical location
  • 30% cost for use of the mLab Board room
  • Access to the *iHub_’s Corporate partners and propose collaborative projects
  • Become iHub Consulting’s Implementation Partners
  • Receive advice on market research from iHub Research
  • Be part of the product development and testing at iHub UXLab
  • Get server space for mobile and web application hosting from iHub Cluster
A Red member who successfully leaves the iHub Space as a formal start up will continue to be part of the Red Membership of iHub as an iHub Net member. This  will be as a “fellow” of the *iHub_. This membership is perpetual but may be terminated by the member or by the *iHub_.

iHub Space Access

With the increase in numbers and with security in mind, we will implement the iHub Space Access system that will control the flow of people coming into the iHub Space. This solution has been developed by iHub Research under their Robotics program.

There are some things that will not change. The *iHub_ is not an organisation.

The *iHub_ is an organism.

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