Kenya will lead the future of African entrepreneurship

Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Group CEO Joshua Oigara (right) takes President Uhuru Kenyatta through the Pre-Global Entrepreneurship Summit Expo 2015 after the President opened the Pre-Summit at Kenyatta International Convention Center on July 22, 2015. PHOTO | BILLY MUTAI | NATION

What you need to know:

  • The latest World Bank report indicates that the Kenyan economy is expected to grow 6 per cent this year up from an earlier projection of 4.7 per cent.
  • The positive reviews our economy has received can largely be attributed to the unwavering entrepreneurial spirit from the Kenyan people, who have taken it upon themselves to steer the economy.
  • The Summit offers a significant opportunity for large indigenous corporations like KCB to showcase entrepreneurship in Kenya, and by extension, Africa.

This week and in the coming days, Kenya will be at the centre of global attention as Nairobi hosts the Global Entrepreneurship Summit which will be graced by US President Barack Obama.  

This Summit, that brings together thousands of entrepreneurs running some of the biggest businesses in the world, marks the biggest swerve for economic growth and transformation in the country and across the East African region to date.

This is clearly an African moment. It is exciting that across all the countries in Africa, Kenya was selected to host a summit that has brought into Nairobi global billionaires and some of the greatest business minds the world has to offer.

The event is demonstrating Kenya’s strength as a country, the innovative spirit for our people across the region and our ability to build bigger potential for our transformation across telecommunications, innovation and business, agriculture, industry and other sectors.

Kenya as a country is going through an exciting stage. The latest World Bank report indicates that the Kenyan economy is expected to grow 6 per cent this year up from an earlier projection of 4.7 per cent, making the country the envy of her peers across the region and Africa.

Attaining lower-middle-income status and becoming the fifth-largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa has put the country in a very strong position as it emerges as the most promising economy among the emerging markets.

We are already seeing all the East African countries moving up the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business benchmark index. In the next two years, I believe that Kenya is going to make it to the top 20 or 30 best countries to do business. Rwanda is already at that level.

RIPE FOR RISK-TAKERS

Whether it is in Nairobi, Lagos, the Middle East or European markets, that ethic to go out, build a new business and look for solutions is the Kenyan way. I, and my organisation, am always very excited when I am in New York or Washington or California or London and I find Kenyan entrepreneurs running innovative businesses.

So Kenya is building global businesses in Africa. And this is going to be, if you look at our population in the region of roughly 200 million people within the six countries.

In addition to very strong neighbours, there is Egypt in the north, as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique, Zambia and Somalia. This is a natural market for us, the average age is around 25 and these are very connected people.

The positive reviews our economy has received can largely be attributed to the unwavering entrepreneurial spirit from the Kenyan people, who have taken it upon themselves to steer the economy.

TodayKenya is extremely ripe for risk-takers. Fearless,  innovative, creativeentrepreneurs are widely recognised as the prime movers of economic development, the people who translate ideas into action.

While formal employment is still highly prized, some encouraging trends are emerging. Recent times have seen opportunity-driven entrepreneurship gain some traction in our societies as more people embrace it for self-development.

The Summit offers a significant opportunity for large indigenous corporations like KCB to showcase entrepreneurship in Kenya, and by extension, Africa. For KCB, the biggest financial services firm in the region by assets, this is a platform for the bank to demonstrate its strong impact and heritage in Africa and its future commitment to the continent.

WE ARE READY

We have formulated and implemented a number of multi-million dollar strategic initiatives and projects, intended  to deepen financial inclusion and grow entrepreneurship on the continent, transforming the lives and experiences of households and businesses.

Over the past few years, the Bank has invested more than US$1billion (Sh100billion) in socio-economic developments across the region, effectively boosting entrepreneurship.

We are committed to the African Agenda and are optimistic about the continent’s future potential in entrepreneurship and innovation. We continue supporting regional legacy projects to drive national development and economic prosperity.

Despite the fact that Kenya has made major strides in promoting entrepreneurship, efforts still need to be made to promote high-impact entrepreneurship based on opportunity, rather than necessity.

Initiatives like the Youth Enterprise Fund, the Women Enterprise Fund and Enterprise Kenya that focus on the development of national incubation hubs and accelerators will go a long way in reaping the benefits of incremental and separate areas of research and progress, as will implementing initiatives to support entrepreneurs in various sectors.

In Africa, the bigger challenge for us is how we connect with and plug into the innovative minds that we have, using the resources the continent has.

We are ready, as an organisation, to partner with other like-minded organisations in Kenya and East Africa to use this moment to build up a new platform for business growth.

The Writer is the Chief Executive Officer of KCB Group and the Chairman of the Kenya Bankers Association

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