Gearbox was in San Francisco last week and had the opportunity to hold a hardware meet up in the heart of the Bay Area maker community. With the help of our friends are TechShop, Juliet and Nathaniel hosted a two hour gathering that brought together makers, hardware innovators and companies from not just the Bay Area but people from even as far India and Sweden who were looking to gain insight on how to build a makerspace. We received a lot of support particularly from Nick Pinkston and Adam Ellsworth,and the larger SF hardware community, in making the event a success.
We started off with presentations from our partners from BRCK and Sanergy on their experience in creating hardware start ups in Nairobi. Both David Auerbach and Nathaniel Manning shared their story of making in Nairobi and the challenges their respective companies faced in terms of getting the right equipment and tools, as well as gaining traction while making iterations on their prototypes.
The meet up was a great opportunity to share with the Bay Area hardware community the history of the making culture in Africa as whole, and Kenya in particular. During our presentation, we traced back to the start of Afrigadget and Maker Faire Africa , both of which have played an important role in showcasing Africa's ingenuity as well as the challenges faced when it comes to making and developing products in this market. This is exactly why we need the Gearbox, so that people can have access to the space, tools and equipment need to design and build rapid prototypes and this way change the story behind innovation in Africa. A lot of final mile technologies will be able to be realized from this space than hobbyist project - gauging from the outcomes of our hackathons and the work presented Maker Faire Africa. We believe that will be part of the unique story behind making in Africa as opposed to any other place in the world.
From the meet up, we were able to gain a lot insight into the world of making- where to buy the best equipment, possible waivers from manufacturers and creating channels to access suppliers from the US and China.
We're currently seeking corporate partnership to help set up Kenya's first open makerspace for rapid prototyping and design. This includes both companies seeking to invest in a space that provides access to the much needed tools as well as manufacturers and suppliers of the equipment we are looking to obtain. Moreover, our team has set up a virtual crowdfund for the gear. How do we plan on doing this? We recently set up a Crowdmap initiative that enables anyone in the US to donate tools, equipment and books that would be beneficial to the Gearbox makerspace and community. In return, they get to be part of this great initiative and be featured on our website. The bigger picture is to continue connecting these two spaces through virtual classes on the use of the different tools in the makerspace in addition to desk exchanges as part of our long term goals. We're excited to see more cross pollination of ideas and collaboration on diverse and innovative hardware projects.