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UPDATE (19 January 2019): Nairobi-based payments company Cellulant today released the names of the six employees (and not seven as earlier believed) killed in Tuesday’s attack they are: the company’s head of product development Ashford Kuria, hub engineer Kelvin Gitonga, head of information security Dennis Mwaniki, quality assurance tester John Ndiritu, implementation engineer Wilfred Kareithi and hub head Jeremiah Mbaria (see below image). The company said a memorial service will be held on Tuesday (22 January) at the CITAM church, Valley Road campus from 10.30am.
Maurice Otieno, the head of a Kenyan business club for startups, says he was waiting to die after terrorists stormed a hotel and office complex in Nairobi yesterday.
“It hits you that you are going to die. The only thing that goes through your mind is how you’re going to die,” Otieno, who manages Metta, a Hong Kong headquartered business club for startups, told Ventureburn by phone this morning.
At least 21 people have been killed in the attack.
They include Jason Spindler (pictured above), the CEO and global managing director of US-based management strategy and investment firm I-DEV International, and six employees of Nairobi-based payments company Cellulant.
Otieno says he was on the sixth floor when the attack broke out at about 3.15pm yesterday at DusitD2 hotel, which includes a hotel, spa, restaurant and office buildings.
At least 21 people have been killed in the Kenyan attack, including I-DEV International CEO Jason Spindler
He and 45 startup entrepreneurs barricaded themselves inside their office space and armed themselves with fire extinguishers and broken glass bottles, before police helped them to evacuate the building an hour later.
“We saw them shooting at people directly, but we didn’t see their faces,” said Otieno, of when the attack broke out. He said an explosion ripped through the building when they finally escaped.
Otieno said members of Kenyan tech company Cellulant were among those killed in the attack, as well as members from I-DEV International and multinational LG.
He said those in the startup community have rallied to help, offering to house entrepreneurs who need space to operate from, while another organisation offered startups two-hour therapy sessions.
But he expected that the attack would likely put many venture capitalists and business consultants off from coming to Kenya.
‘Spindler’s death a loss to community’
South Africa business consultant and founder of the HYBR Group, Vuyisa Qabaka, called the loss of Spindler (who he knew personally) and those startup employees who were killed in the attack as “a big loss” for Africa’s tech community.
“It is difficult for many of us, not only because we know Jason, but primarily because we travel to these countries to improve their ecosystem (sic) and build companies with local talent… and death is never foremost in our minds,” he said.
Cellulant on 19 January released the names of the six employees killed in the attack. They are the company’s head of product development Ashford Kuria, hub engineer Kelvin Gitonga, head of information security Dennis Mwaniki, quality assurance tester John Ndiritu, implementation engineer Wilfred Kareithi and hub head Jeremiah Mbaria (see below image).
The company said a memorial service will be held on Tuesday (22 January) at the CITAM church, Valley Road campus from 10.30am.
Spindler’s brother Jonathan announced earlier on Facebook that his brother, who he said survived the September 11 attacks in New York in 2001, had passed away in the attacks.
Ventureburn attempted to call the US embassy in Kenya for comment, but was unable to get through.
In a phone call with Ventureburn this morning (16 January), I-DEV International associate partner Winnie Odhiambo said she was waiting on confirmation from the US Embassy on Spindler’s fate. She did not wish to comment further.
*Ventureburn writer Daniel Mpala also contributed to this story.
Editor’s note (17 January 2019): The death toll in the attack has risen and as such the number of those killed has been updated from the 14 reported initially.
Featured image: Jason Spindler, the CEO and global managing director of US-based management strategy and investment firm I-DEV International (Facebook).