Every Wednesday for our Man Around Nairobi segment we interview a man who works, lives and plays in Nairobi. Our Man Around Nairobi today is Michael Gathogo. Michael Gathongo is the co-founder of Cladlight, a wearable technology company where he designed wearable tech safety vests to reduce motorcycle accidents. He is a product designer and has been involved in successful projects both in Germany and Kenya. He is currently the founder of Toimart which is Kenya’s best online kids’ mall for buying or selling kids’ products. He is also an Analytics expert certified by Google and a self-taught tech expert. He is passionate about entrepreneurship and creating sustainable solutions for Africa.
1. Did you grow up in Nairobi?
Yes, I was born in Nairobi and I grew up in Dagoretti. When I was around 4 years I used to commute to South B where I attended Mariakani Primary School. I always enjoyed going to school with the free rides from Kenya Bus when Megarider was a big thing.
My childhood life in Dagoretti was fun and I was that kid in the block that came up with gigs. You know those days when parents would tell you not to step outside the gate but I was that kid who after an hour was in another village. So every weekend we teamed up with my buddies and we would visit flooded areas to swim. We also visited a popular electronic dump site called “Kooker” to collect gadgets that we enjoyed. When I was a teenager I enjoyed studying a lot more than playing outside and during weekends my dad would teach me electronics or take me to the airports to watch the aeroplanes.
2. What do you love about Nairobi?
I love how people are open-minded, they think big and are ready to take risks. Kenya has already been listed at number 3 in the list of top 10 internet countries in Africa and this year Nairobi has been ranked among the top 20 successful cities globally so it’s a great city.
3. What would you change about Nairobi?
The infrastructure. I would introduce new technology that would help people live a better life. I would like to see Nairobi having free internet parks. I would make sure every home has access to fast internet. Instead of chopping down trees to expand roads, there is a need to introduce faster means of transport like high-speed trains that are affordable.
4. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
Working in Nairobi has been great. It is a great place for me to learn and meet other industry experts although it has been a challenge getting people to try out or invest in new tech ideas. It would be better though if people would support each other in businesses rather than having a society where people are just competing or copying each other. Having run several startups Nairobi can be open if you solve people’s problems with the skills you have.
5. If you had a tourist friend coming in from outside the country what three things would you say to sell them the idea that Nairobi is worth visiting?
Wildlife, events and nightlife. People like having fun in Nairobi. There are plenty of places to visit for nightlife on weekends. There are some nice places to enjoy some drinks and enjoy some music.
The Alchemist is good if you like techno music.
The Nairobi National Park is a great place to hang out and go camping.
If you would like to interact with Michael you can find him on Twitter at @MichaelGpops.
Man Around Nairobi: Bankelele