Bosco Somi, 40, is the CEO of Sky Digitals, an innovation company that invented Wi-Fi vending machines to empower communities through access to affordable internet.
Which was your dream career? Did it ever change at some point?
I wanted to become a musician. This was until I learnt that I was not talented in singing. By nature, I am an outgoing person, so I decided to try my hand at sales and marketing. I was employed in various companies as a sales coordinator for 10 years. During that period, I learnt that partnerships significantly help in growing sales.
Tell us about your company and how the idea to start it came about…
I started Sky Digitals after losing my job in 2013. After a number of years of being jobless, I decided to venture into innovation to sustain myself and my family. I started the company with the aim of enabling youth, people with various forms of disabilities and the vulnerable to be self-employed. Currently, we are working on creating partnerships with institutions and private sector players that can fund the mentioned groups to acquire the Wi-Fi vending machines.
Who do you look up to in the tech and innovation world?
I admire is Elon Musk because he challenges me as an innovator to give everything my best shot. He encourages me to expand my mind and move beyond my comfort zone.
Talk to us about the Wi-Fi vending machine…
The machine works like the old telephone booths which you could feed with coins and then make a call. It uses the same concept only that in this case, you activate the machine when you insert a Sh10 or Sh20 coin. The amount you insert determines the number of minutes with internet connection you get on your gadget.
The advantage of the machine is that it can accommodate up to 4,000 devices, which includes computers and mobile phones. Another advantage is that one can sell Wi-Fi for as low as Sh10 for 60 minutes.
What makes it different from other internet providers?
Our system offers a higher level of convenience. Unlike the other service providers whose internet bundles ‘expire’ after a set period of time, ours are more economical. If a client uses the Wi-Fi for only 10 minutes out of the allocated 60 minutes and then switches off the machine, they can reuse the remaining time balance even after six months.
The machine also has a web-based platform that can help you monitor and control several functions. For instance, one can check all the revenue collected remotely. You can also set a download speed so that you don’t ever get any periods of slow internet, even when other users are downloading large documents. One can also block websites that slow down Wi-Fi speeds. The Wi-Fi machine can be installed in a number of spaces including hospitals, colleges, universities, clubs, airports, and restaurants.
What role does the gadget play in changing lives?
It creates employment by helping members of the community explore new online opportunities at an affordable fee. In fact, I believe my product can help the government establish stable and sustainable internet hotspots. Also, crime in our communities can reduce drastically if we empower our youth to be self-reliant.
What is your short-term goal?
My aim is to see more young people craft new careers thanks to better internet access. That has been a major gap, and one of the reasons youth in developed countries are more innovative and successful.
In your view, what’s the solution to the soaring rates of unemployment in Kenya?
Unemployment is a serious problem not only in Kenya but across Africa. I advise our youth to try business. They should get creative and move out of their comfort zones, and soon their services will be in demand in the world.
What do you consider the biggest achievement in your career?
If I achieve even 40 per cent of my mission, which is to empower youth in Kenya to become self-reliant, then that will be my biggest achievement. Currently, I am training my 14-year-old son to build these machines and hopefully, he will be better than me in the future. I would advise any upcoming innovator to be passionate about their work and to never give up.
How do you unwind?
In my free time, I watch movies and enjoy my children’s company.