With exactly a week to the Sixth Annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) 2015 next weekend, Kenyans have all reasons to celebrate as the event will place the country on the global map.
The summit which will be officially opened by the United States President Barrack Obama will put Kenya in the limelight as a preferred investment destination.
In his message, President Uhuru Kenyatta said that it was a great opportunity that Kenya was hosting the event.
“It is only fitting that this year’s summit is hosted by Kenya; a country that epitomizes the transformational power of possibility. A land once known for its Savannah, now earning international repute as the Silicon Savannah. Where the vibrancy of the economy is matched only by the verve of our youth,”
said Uhuru as he welcomed the world to the country.
But is the country prepared to maintain the standards and demands that the attendees of the conference and the world at large will place on it? Are there ready structures to implement the discussions and recommendations that come out of the summit?
Geoffrey Injeni, a financial consultant and lecturer at the Strathmore Business School says that there is work to be done beyond the summit. He says,
“This is a good summit that creates an important forum to promote entrepreneurs. But it all goes down to the creation of structures that support investment.”
To him, what will make Kenya the best place for entrepreneurs and investors is good secured environment, good monetary policies especially on inflation and exchange rates and a good and efficient fiscal policy that has have tax incentives that promote businesses.
Investment in infrastructure, education and technology, ethical and responsible leadership to reduce corruption, provision of an efficient system that promotes Foreign Direct Investment, like processing licences for foreigners to startup businesses and actively engaging the private sector in promoting economic growth are some of the elements that will make Kenya uphold the expectations created after the summit.
“Generally such forums are good to share ideas, but at the end there has to be commitment to some of the ideas and suggestions,” he says.
Injeni adds that the summit will offer Kenya huge visibility, opportunities for investment and definitely a milestone for entrepreneurship because it is the one major event where small and medium sized businesses are given attention globally.
The fact that Kenya is hosting the Summit is a recognition that as a country we have a good ground for entrepreneurship. Injeni says
“The United States President visiting is very good as it raises investors’ confidence and removes the doubt in others about insecurity and other issues that face African countries.”
The summit, according to him, provides opportunities for Kenyan entrepreneurs, students and investors should be prepared to reap from it including employment opportunities for students, opportunities for funding for starters where by foreign direct investors as well as offer an opportunity to do business globally by engaging clients from other countries. This will also be a chance for local entrepreneurs to learn new ideas on how countries and entrepreneurs can grow businesses and overcome challenges.
Some renowned businessmen and high profile entrepreneurs are expected in the summit, a situation that offers local entrepreneurs a better chance to network with a variety of investors. They include Mark Cuban, Investor & Owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Barbara Corcoran, Investor & Founder of Barbara Corcoran Venture Partners, Daymond John, Investor & CEO and Founder of FUBU, Tony Elumelu,Founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation, Antonio Gracias, Founder of Valor Equity Partners and Julie Hanna, Founder of Kiva, among others.
“Of course networking is normally the start of long term business relationships.”
Commenting on the quality of entrepreneurship training in the Kenyan universities today, Injeni concurs with the findings of the 2015 Kenya Economic Survey which shows an upward trend in the number of entrepreneurs and a declining number of people opting for formal employment.
“This is a good thing because universities like Strathmore and University of Nairobi among others are investing in good business schools. It is better to train employers than employees because employers create more jobs.”
According to Optiven CEO George Wachiuri, Kenyans are naturally born entrepreneurs and they are brought up feeding themselves.
“This culture is on the rise due to lack of jobs and the next alternative is to create a job for oneself and others,”
says Wachiuri, adding that with very fast growing economy, many opportunities, good governance, vibrant Kenya Private sector and responsive government create a great environment for budding entrepreneurs. He adds,
“Our country is today extremely ripe for risk takers, fearless, innovative and creative individuals.”
The 6th GES, Wachiuri adds, is also a sign that our political, economic environment is on the positive rise. This will boost investment on trade investments and Kenyans can expect more exports to America.
“In 2010 our exports was USD 277.2 Million and in 2014 USD 420.8Million. We can only expect more in the near future and more so after this visit by Obama,” he concludes.