SR article

Innovation Analysis

The seven functions of Hekkert are for mapping the key activities in innovation systems, and explain shifts in technology specific innovation systems (Hekkert, 2007). In this article we will go in depth on how each of these function apply to our project, and on the potential of innovation from this project approach.

Entrepreneurial activities
Entrepreneurial activities in Kenya are not much supported by the government or culture of the country, because there is no big stimulant of developing activities set up by local people. Particularism and collectivism are two key characteristics of Kenya, which both influence the extent of entrepreneurial activities. But there is also a new trend shown in the country, new NGO’s are rising in Kenya, most of them coming from a loyal inhabitant who wants to do something back for the community, like the chairman of the organization of our project, SRI.

At this moment this resource centre of our project is still being build. Therefore all the entrepreneurial activities that are going to generate income for this centre  have not started yet. The only enterprise up and running at the moment is the carpentry workshop that has been built about a year ago. This is a building separate from the resource centre with tools and equipment for people to use and create products they can sell. On both technological and economical field this workshop has been beneficial for the community. We will still be able to use this carpentry workshop as an income generating facility for the resource centre. Besides that we will have to set up different start-ups. The resource centre will create more entrepreneurial activities in the area of Okana, and this can also be an option to consider in different parts of Kenya to stimulate the entrepreneurial activities in the area.

Knowledge development
Knowledge development still is a big issue in Kenya. There is some development in education in the country, but not enough to really develop knowledge as it is supposed to be. Education has been picking up since the independence of Kenya in 1963. The educational system has undergone a change twice since then. Since 2009 the government has invested a lot in the quality of the Kenyan education. This after a wide spread research showing the lack of knowledge the Kenyans had. At the moment Kenyan children get primary as well as secondary education for free. But after the secondary school, most of the children cannot become students, just because they do not have money to go to college. This lack of money for universities is still a retainer for good knowledge development in the country.

Okana, the village of our project, is at the moment a quite widespread village. Despite the fact that it is close to the third biggest city of Kenya, Kisumu, they seem to stay quite behind on the technological development. This centre is going to change that. With the first Wi-Fi connection in the area as well as a library it will give the community of Okana these same development opportunities. The resource centre will give the community opportunity to develop themselves, so that they can innovate. In the long run this new knowledge will lead in an economical profit as well, since this knowledge can be used to generate more business.

Knowledge diffusion through networks
The knowledge diffusion through networks is expiring tough in Kenya, much tougher than we are used to in the Netherlands. Where the Netherlands is really developed in internet connections, computers and mobile phones, Kenya is way behind. Most of the Kenyan people do not have a own computer, not in the least a laptop, where in the Netherlands you see people with laptops walking around all the time. This lack of owned computers hinders the knowledge diffusion through networks. However, the mobile network connections are well developed in Kenya. Mobile network is almost everywhere available, only issue is the number of mobile phones. Most of the people own a mobile phone, but especially in the poor area´s there are also a lot of people without a phone, definitely not a smartphone. This also hinders the knowledge diffusion.

Okana is a widespread rural area, without any Wi-Fi network available in the village. But the resource centre will change this, which also will stimulate the knowledge diffusion in the area. Besides that, the resource centre is supposed to be a place where the people of Okana meet each other and talk to each other. This also stimulates the mouth to mouth knowledge diffusion through networks. The concept of a resource centre will cooperate with more knowledge diffusion, and this concept can also be used in other rural areas like Okana.

Guidance of the search
Guidance of the search is not really notable in Kenya. The government does not guide the community in a clear way, but is retaining the community to really develop because of the importance of hierarchy and collectivism which is still a big part of the Kenyan culture. The many important family relations in the Kenyan culture makes that there are no clear preferences on which every person of the community can hold on to, but there are a lot of different preferences between the tribes and families in that tribe.

For our project, it will be hard to find the shared preferences in the area, but it is important to find them so that we can take these preferences as a guidance of the search. We can response to these guidance and make sure that we will follow them.

Market formation
Kenya has a free trade system. Kenya is front runner in Eastern and Central Africa when it comes to financial, communication and transport services. The main industries are: agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, energy, tourism and industrial manufacturing. But still the market is less developed as in Europe. However, there is enough market formation in the country to stimulate innovation for development. The Kenyan economy is based on a supply and demand market.

At the moment the ties of the village of our project with the big city close, Kisumu, are limited. Looking at the future, the centre will allow the village to have better connections with Kisumu, through the internet connection that will be set up. Also because of the income generating businesses that will be attached to the centre, there will be more products that can be sold in Kisumu, giving the community of Okana an economical boost.

Resources mobilization 
Infrastructure between the big cities in Kenya is quite evolved, especially since China has taken interest in investing in the Kenyan infrastructure. This interest is because of the oil and the position of the port in Kenya. This investment in infrastructure is good for the resource mobilization. However, in the more rural areas it is still quite behind on this development. The quality of roads is not as good as the main roads, and it is hard to reach the small places in the country.
The resource centre built in Okana is providing more resources for encouraging innovation, like computers, internet connection, books and a meeting place for the community. These things will be generate more resource mobilization, which is positive for the development of innovation in the area.

Creation of legitimacy/counteract resistance to change
In the culture of Kenya, there is no naturally willingness to change things drastically. ‘It is going fine this way, so why changing this old way into a new one which may not even be better?’ is what many African people think first. In our project, the community of Okana probably also think this way, because they would be convinced that change is not needed at all times. Change also leads to creative destruction, where they replace the old with the new (Joseph Schumpeter, 1942), which will obstruct new innovation We should be aware of this setting of mindset, so that we can respond to this thought and make sure that people of Okana want to make a change.

To accomplish innovation, it is important to counteract this resistance to change, and make sure that the people you work with are willing to change.  With this, and the six other functions in mind, innovation can be achieved in the area of Okana, and also in other areas of Kenya.



M.P. Hekkert, R.A.A. Suurs, S.O. Negro, S. Kuhlmann, R.E.H.M. Smits, Functions of innovation systems: A new approach for analysing technological change. Technological Forecasting & Social Change 74 (2007), 413–432

Schumpeter, J. (1942). Creative destruction. Capitalism, socialism and democracy, 825.