Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Chai Sacco to train 200 youth on entrepreneurship

A group of jobless residents idle on the Kimathi Road roundabout in Nyeri. It is expected that the GES will bring into light the potential that entrepreneurship offers to grow the economy, especially in the creation of jobs by the youth for the youth. PHOTO | FILE

A group of jobless residents idle on the Kimathi Road roundabout in Nyeri. Chai Sacco has embarked on a youth empowerment campaign seeking to train over 200 youth groups in financial management. PHOTO | FILE  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By YVONNE KAWIRA
More by this Author

Chai Sacco has embarked on a youth empowerment campaign seeking to train over 200 youth groups in financial management.

The campaign called ‘vijana tu-invest’ is expected to be held in various parts of Nairobi over the next three months.

The training will be coordinated by Chai Sacco and various financial experts who will be seeking to empower Nairobi-based youth groups in financial and management training, saving and offer financial advice services among other services.

Speaking during the announcement, Chai Sacco Chairman, Boniface Ayub that the future growth of the Kenyan economy will require a well-educated and financially informed populous.

EMPOWER

“As such, we need to empower such youth groups and social clusters so that they can contribute to the social- economic development of Kenya and help their reach their potential as echoed by visiting President Obama at the Global Entrepreneurial Summit,” Mr Ayub said.

According to the chairman, the sacco is also committed to investing in the in well-structured youth groups with serious investment potential.

The Sacco is also setting aside Sh1 million that will be extended to these groups in form of grants.

The campaign is expecting interest from over 4000 youth groups out of which 200 will be picked for the training and be considered for grants.

advertisement

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Women big winners in global summit

Akirachix co-founders from left Angela Oduor-Lungati, Marie Githinji, Judith Owigar and Linda Kamau at their office on Ngong Road in Nairobi in on February 24, 2015. Women were the biggest beneficiaries of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which ended on Sunday in Nairobi. PHOTO | BILLY MUTAI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Women were the biggest beneficiaries of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which ended on Sunday in Nairobi.

The United States State Department, the Global Entrepreneurship Network and two foundations have set up a venture exchange for women in Nairobi and Kampala.

The Women’s Venture Xchange-Africa, created during the GES Youth + Women event, will support the women for a month in the two cities where they are expected to develop their business more rapidly through collaboration and access to a new entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The entrepreneurs will be supported by the Mara Mentors, the Global Entrepreneurship Network community and the Case Foundation while in a host city.

Four women will get the first chance to build their businesses in the pilot programme which will be extended across Africa.

“I had access to these opportunities as an entrepreneur learning the ropes in East Africa and I want young entrepreneurs to have even more which enable them to build thriving businesses,” said Mr Ashish Thakkar, founder of Mara Group and the Mara Foundation.

MENTORSHIP PROGRAMME

The initiative will serve as an exchange and mentorship programme for women, leveraging well-established networks in more than 35 countries to scale the programme rapidly throughout the continent.

The Mara Mentors will also seek to mentor more than a million youth and women entrepreneurs in East Africa. The mentorship programme seeks to encourage sharing of ideas and knowledge between East African entrepreneurs and experienced professionals across the world.

Mara aims to empower 1 million youth and women entrepreneurs in the region by the year 2020 through mentorship and financing to enable them create and grow successful businesses.

 “For entrepreneurs at the start of their life, a real obstacle to growth is the fear of failure. The best way to overcome this fear is to access mentorship from real business experts who have gone through the same experiences.

We aim to help build the entrepreneurship ecosystem which consists of mentorship, access to finance and government policies,” said Mr Thakkar, Founder of Mara Group and Mara Foundation.

advertisement

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Kenya, US sign key transport deal

Workers construct a high bridge where the new

Workers construct a high bridge where the new standard gauge railway will pass through in Voi Town on May 2015. The bridge will allow motorists to use the road uninterrupted. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By OTIATO GUGUYU
More by this Author

Kenya and the US have signed a deal that would lead to the development of strategic infrastructure projects.

The memorandum of understanding covers projects related to the Lamu Port South Sudan- Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor.

During the signing ceremony on Friday, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Amina Mohamed said the deal would include “the development of a transport corridor connecting a new port at Lamu, to Ethiopia and Southern Sudan”.

The deal is likely to unsettle the Chinese, whose consortium led by the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) won a Sh48.5 billion ($488.7 million) tender for the construction of the first three berths of Lamu Port.

President Uhuru Kenyatta in his address during the opening of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) said, Kenya cannot afford “the luxury” of aligning itself to either the East or West. The key projects of the Lapsset corridor programme require substantial amount of funds with a budget estimate of Sh2 trillion in construction costs.

VISA DURATION

The project includes construction of railway lines, a pipeline, roads and an airport to connect Kenya to South Sudan and Ethiopia.

Resort cities are also expected to come up in Isiolo, Lamu and Lokichogio to open up northern Kenya. The 200m-wide Lapsset corridor will link Lamu on Kenya’s Coast to Juba, South Sudan, 1,700km away, and is expected to generate at least three per cent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product.

The US and Kenya also signed agreements on a joint security initiative, industrial investments, tourism and student visas as well as cooperation in health, reducing the threats of biological warfare and diseases.

The duration for visa validity for students, temporary visitors for business and tourism has been increased to five years.

“Trade interaction between Kenya and the US has grown significantly though still in favour of the US. We expect this to narrow as Kenyans diversify their exports and travel favourably to the US to do business,” Ms Amina Mohamed said.

Kenya hopes the renewed relations with America will help local businessmen take advantage of the renewed Africa Growth and Opportunity Act.

advertisement

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Coca-Cola to invest Sh455m in youth training

Kelvin Balogun, president of Coca-Cola Central,

Kelvin Balogun, president of Coca-Cola Central, East and West Africa. | COURTESY 

By OTIATO GUGUYU
More by this Author

Kenyan youth will benefit from a Sh455 million investment targeting six African countries through training in business, life skills and employment.

The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation (TCCAF) has announced a Sh455.7 million (USD4.5 million) investment across six countries, to train and connect young people to employment opportunities.

The first phase of TCCAF’s Youth Empowered for Success (YES!) initiative will be tried out in Kenya, South Africa and Tunisia.

The programme seeks to provide life skills training, business skills training and access to employment and mentoring for 25,000 young Africans over the next three years. The TCCAF investment will eventually reach 500,000 youth by 2020.

The YES! program is being introduced in partnership with Mercy Corps, Microsoft, Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator and Kuza Biashara in the three countries before being implemented in Liberia, Nigeria and Uganda.

“The rapid pace of technology adoption across Africa presents significant opportunity for private sector, civil society and government partners to engage with youth in new ways while building the skills and connections that are essential for employment,” Kelvin Balogun, the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation and Business Unit president for Central, East and West Africa said.

LIFE SKILLS

In Kenya young people will be taught life skills along with market-driven technical and business skills by Mercy Corps.

They will also receive online training through the YES! technology platform which is being rolled out in Nairobi County. The participants will also access offline training.

It will help the youth register their businesses and benefit from the government tender policy that prioritizes youth, women and people with disabilities.

They will also be linked to jobs and business or micro-franchise opportunities in growth segments of the Kenyan economy, such as the construction, agriculture, renewable energy and hospitality sectors.

The platform is targeting both young people who live in remote locations and those with limited literacy skills and is designed to support SMS messaging and voice-based mobile devices and will also be available through devices at YES! program hubs.

The hubs-retail and social service centres owned and run by the trained youth, will be powered by solar panels and supported by standalone battery powered wireless internet devices.

The digital platform offers a simple interface and features that include access to personalized learning and connections to program partners from government, civil society and the private sector.

This ensures participating youth can gain critical in-demand training and skills as well as access to jobs, internships, mentorships and other employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.

advertisement

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Group formed to mentor women entrepreneurs

US recording artist and entrepreneur Akon (centre) poses for photos after speaking at the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi on July 24, 2015.

US recording artist and entrepreneur Akon (centre) poses for photos after speaking at the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi on July 24, 2015. The US State Department, the Global Entrepreneurship Network and two foundations have set up a venture exchange for women. AFP PHOTO | JOHN MUCHUCHA 

By OTIATO GUGUYU
More by this Author

The US State Department, the Global Entrepreneurship Network and two foundations have set up a venture exchange for women in Nairobi and Kampala.

The Women’s Venture Xchange-Africa created during the GES Youth + Women event, will support the women for a month in the two cities where they are expected to develop their business more rapidly through collaboration and access to a new entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The entrepreneurs will be supported by Mara Mentors, the GEN community and Case Foundation while in a host city.

Four women will get the first chance to build their businesses in the pilot programme which will be extended across Africa.

“I had access to these opportunities as an entrepreneur learning the ropes in East Africa and I want young entrepreneurs to have even more which enable them to build thriving businesses,” Ashish Thakkar, founder of Mara Group and the Mara Foundation said.

MENTORSHIP FOR WOMEN

The initiative will serve as an exchange and mentorship program for women, leveraging well-established networks in more than 35 countries to scale the program rapidly throughout the continent.

The Mara Mentors will also seek to mentor more than a million youth and women entrepreneurs in East Africa. The mentorship programme seeks to encourage sharing of ideas and knowledge between East African entrepreneurs and experienced professionals across the world.

Mara aims to empower one million youth and women entrepreneurs in the region by the year 2020 through mentorship and financing to enable them to create and grow successful businesses.

"For entrepreneurs at the start of their life, a real obstacle to growth is the fear of failure. The best way to overcome this fear is to access mentorship from real business experts who have gone through the same experiences.

We aim to help build the entrepreneurship ecosystem which consists of mentorship, access to finance and government policies," said Ashish Thakkar, founder of Mara Group and the Mara Foundation.

advertisement

Saturday, July 25, 2015

IBM to spend Sh6bn on training in universities

IBM East Africa General Manager Nicholas

IBM East Africa General Manager Nicholas Nesbitt. PHOTO | LILIAN OCHIENG |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By LILIAN OCHIENG
More by this Author

IBM will invest over Sh6 billion in a skills investment program across universities and polytechnics in East Africa.

IBM East Africa General Manager Nicholas Nesbitt said the largest chunk of the money will be focused on Kenya.

The funds will be spent on building a cloud system for 50 universities in Kenya, where learning content will be available in partnership with Kenya Education Network (KENET).

“We will deliver our courses online as part of IBM- KENET private cloud, students will take the courses for free on IBM technology,” Mr Nesbitt said at an interview in GES.

He added that already 13 universities in Africa are using the program, and over 1,000 students are enrolled, with 100 lecturers also being trained on the system’s skills.

Kenya is a very important market for IBM since it set up its first Africa research lab in Nairobi, going forward, KENET will work with IBM in fostering knowledge across varied education levels.

Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi said the program will benefit over 80 universities spread across South Sudan, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and Kenya.

RIGHT SKILLS

“When we speak of the standard gauge railway, the, oil discoveries and ICT revolution, we need people with the right skills to tackle these markets by managing the resources,” said Kaimenyi, who hinted that the program will supplement the digital literacy project.

The government is likely to award IBM the tender for its cloud system that will host content for the much touted digital literacy program. The program was bogged down by procurement challenges, forcing President Uhuru Kenyatta to reorganise the agenda and delegate it to a multi-ministerial team.

IBM also partnered with the iHub that will see it deploy its researchers at there. This will enable software developers and start-ups to tap the expertise of IBM in fostering entrepreneurial business.

The space will also provide early stage entrepreneurs and start-ups with access to skills in cloud, big data analytics, mobile and security.

“We are both passionate about supporting and empowering the success of Africa’s entrepreneurs,” said Erik Hersman, co-founder of iHub.

The new innovation hub will be open to any of the 17,000 iHub members. IBM will also conduct monthly workshops and events to benefit developers.

advertisement

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Citi, Technoserve to provide entrepreneurship training

One of the entrances to Citi Bank's corporate headquarters in New York City on August 12, 2014. PHOTO | ANDREW BURTON

One of the entrances to Citi Bank's corporate headquarters in New York City on August 12, 2014. The Citi Foundation has announced a partnership with business solutions developer TechnoServe to help women and youth grow business in Africa. PHOTO | ANDREW BURTON |  AFP

By OTIATO GUGUYU
More by this Author

Citi Foundation has announced a partnership with business solution developer TechnoServe to help women and youth grow business in Africa.

The partnership will be rolled out in Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria and South Africa to provide training and help create jobs especially for women.

Through the foundation’s African Youth and Women’s Business Development programme Citi wants to scale local organisations to provide employment, enhance incomes and increase the economic participation of women and youth.

“Entrepreneurs make companies work, and companies make economies work. We are honoured to partner with TechnoServe as it promotes and develops businesses and mentorship programmes for women across West, East and South Africa,” Amin Manekia, Citi Corporate Banking head for sub-Saharan Africa said.

Women and youth have won big from the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) after US president Barrack Obama announced that half of the Sh100 billion worth of investments targeted by the summit will go to young people and women.

“If half of your team's not playing then you've a problem. We need to involve women in entrepreneurship,” President Obama said during the opening of the Summit Friday.

Citi and TechnoServe will provide jobs and business training for women to support the establishment of a network of women-owned shops across Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

FARMERS

The partners will work with young people (mostly women) from farming families to develop successful cashew-processing businesses in Nigeria.

South Africa will benefit from the provision of support, advice and training to help grow their small businesses into medium-sized enterprises that can employ many in their communities.

While in Uganda, the partners will connect vulnerable girls with successful businesswomen, providing them with mentorship and training in trades like tailoring and agriculture.

Youth account for 60 per cent of all unemployed unemployed, according to the World Bank, with young women affected most severely.

The new partnership will address the unemployment by drawing on the Citi Foundation’s long experience supporting local economic development and TechnoServe’s expertise in promoting entrepreneurship and small businesses.

“Everywhere I go in Africa, I am struck by the vibrancy and resourcefulness of its entrepreneurs,” William Warshauer, President & CEO of TechnoServe said.

The Citi Foundation and TechnoServe will measure the effectiveness of the projects, identify the approaches with the greatest impact, and determine how to scale up the initiatives to achieve even greater economic impact.

advertisement

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Chase bank targets SME lending with Sh60bn kitty

Mr Paul Njaga, Chase Bank chief executive officer. PHOTO | FILE

Mr Paul Njaga, Chase Bank chief executive officer. Chase Bank has set aside Sh60 billion to finance small and medium enterprises over the next three years. PHOTO | FILE 

By JOSHUA MASINDE
More by this Author

Chase Bank has set aside Sh60 billion to finance small and medium enterprises over the next three years.

The bank chief executive officer, Paul Njaga said the lender will be providing the funds as part of its current strategy which focuses on small businesses.

“The funds are intended to ensure that formal credit lines can be extended to those entrepreneurs who would otherwise not have access to formal financing,” Mr Njaga noted.

The focus will be on SMEs run by women and youth in sectors such as agribusiness and trade.

The bank made the announcement at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) Friday in Nairobi.

The GES, which is being co-hosted by US President Barack Obama and President Uhuru Kenyatta began Saturday in Nairobi and ends on Sunday (July 26). Kenya is the first country in Sub-Sahara Africa to host the event.

advertisement

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Barclays launches innovation challenge

By EDWIN OKOTH
More by this Author

Barclays Africa Group has launched an innovation challenge for youth entrepreneurs that will see the winner receive a Sh1 million cash prize and potential funding opportunity from investors.

Barclays Africa Chief Executive of Corporate and Investment Banking Stephen van Coller said challenge will help transform the supply chain transparency and lower the cost of doing business.

"The supply chain, the journey of a product from manufacturer to consumer is often disjointed and inefficient and there is currently a huge amount of interest in finding ways to increase the transparency of provenance, not least of which is the use of Blockchain technology.

Such technologies have substantial potential in creating transparency about the series of transactions that occur along any supply chain process," Mr Coller said.

Supply Chain Challenge aims to tap ideas that drives the digital evolution on the continent and promote tech entrepreneurs in the region.

The announcement comes after the recent global launch of the Barclays Rise Innovation programme in which Barclays is partnering with innovators and entrepreneurs who drive technological disruption in the financial services sector.

Barclays bank Kenya Chief Executive Jeremy Awori said the bank will embark on several other programmes to promote innovations and drive entrepreneurship.

BRING EFFICIENCY

“We know that innovation will bring efficiencies in business and that is why we take such initiatives seriously to support the youth and the SMEs with targeted banking products. This will only be a step in the journey we want to embark on in creating more business opportunities through innovations,” Mr Awori said.

Technologies that promote supply chain transparency for products like Food and diamonds have largely attracted attention of traders and consumers as regulators focus to ensure traceability of these goods.

The challenge will be open for Africa based individual innovators in teams and start-ups aged between 18 and 35 who will be expected to propose a solution that creates more transparency between seller and buyer, through the supply chain.

The entries, which close on September 18, will see the overall winner take a $10,000 prize as one member from each finalist team gets invited to pitch to a panel of renowned experts in South Africa on November 3.

The challenge comes as Kenya begins hosting the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which provides a similar opportunity for entrepreneurs to get mentorship and pitch ideas and attract investors.

advertisement

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sh1bn shot in the arm for start-ups

Deputy President William Ruto during a discussion on entrepreneurship and innovation at the GES at KICC, Nairobi on July 24, 2015. PHOTO | DPPS

Deputy President William Ruto during a discussion on entrepreneurship and innovation at the GES at KICC, Nairobi, on July 24, 2015. PHOTO | DPPS 

By OTIATO GUGUYU
More by this Author

Kenya Commercial Bank has pledged Sh1 billion to boost the government efforts to finance start-ups through the Enterprise Kenya Fund.

The fund was set up in March by President Uhuru Kenyatta during the National ICT Innovation Forum with a seed capital of Sh1 billion.

The initiative is expected to scale up at least 50 start-ups according to the government which wants to use it to catalyse innovation and provide young entrepreneurs with needed financial support.

KCB Bank Group CEO Joshua Oigara said they will match the government investment to increase funding for small businesses.

Mr Oigara was speaking at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre on Friday during panel discussion with business leaders and Deputy President William Ruto, who challenged the financial sector to help the government finance Small and Medium Enterprises.

Mr Ruto also asked banks to rethink their financing models with a view to allow young Kenyans without land and log books access to credit.
He also called on big corporates to stop borrowing from banks, stating that they were crowding out small businesses.

STOCK MARKET

“We should not be having big companies going to KCB to negotiate for loans yet we have a stock market where they can raise more money at even lower rates,” he said.

Mr Ruto asked big firms in the private sector to make proposals to the government on how to work with the Capital Markets Authority to set up working models of raising funds at the exchange.

Mr Ruto said the government has set aside the Sh6 billion Uwezo Fund to invest in the young generation, which could not access loans from banks.
Uwezo Fund

“The government is willing to take a risk with the youth that is why we created Uwezo Fund which is in its second year and we are looking on how to improve it,” he said.

Mr Ruto also said the government had provided a ready market for the innovation by giving the youth access to over Sh202 billion opportunity by reserving 30 per cent tenders in all government for the young.

Mara Group chief executive officer Ashish Thakkar said his company will be announcing a deal during the Global Entrepreneurship Summit to provide venture capital to grow businesses.

advertisement

Friday, July 24, 2015

Wireless internet provider Mawingu Networks gets US funding

Students browse the Internet provided by

Students browse the Internet provided by Mawingu Networks Limited in a joint initiative with Microsoft to connect rural residents in Nanyuki. Mawingu Networks has signed an agreement that will see the US government fund its operations. FILE 

By LILIAN OCHIENG
More by this Author

Wireless internet provider Mawingu Networks has signed an agreement that will see the US government fund its operations.

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the US government's Development Finance Institution said it has the potential to provide Sh400 million loan that will commercially expand the connectivity for the off grid Internet access.

"By leveraging technology and ingenuity, Mawingu's massive reach to connect rural African communities to the internet is just beginning and I look toward to the growth and scalability of this model that OPIC financing can unlock," said Elizabeth Littlefield OPIC President and CEO at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi Friday.

Mawingu Networks Ltd combines solar power technology with TV whitespace, microwaves and solar powered network to deliver internet to
people and businesses.

MICROSOFT

Microsoft through its 4Africa initiative funded the first phase of Mawingu project. It was also supported by US Agency for International Development, an investment from Angel Investor Jim Forster and early funding from Paul G Allen's Vulcan Inc.

Antony Cook Microsoft Head of legal and corporate affairs for Middle East said Mawingu is the first of six TV whitespace technology deployed in Africa. He urged regulators like Communications Authority of Kenya to develop legal framework that will support the technology.

The project has been tested in Laikipia and Nanyuki and is currently facing delay because there are no laws set to monitor such technology.

Director-General of CA Francis Wangusi said that the standards on which the TV white space technology will be deployed will be known during the World Radio Conference meeting scheduled in November.

Microsoft in late May said it is waiting for a decision from the CA on whether its partners such as Mawingu Networks Ltd can start earning profit from the project.

advertisement

Friday, July 24, 2015

Winners sought in Friday pitching competition

Mr Geoffrey Mulei CEO Inkisha (centre) the lead

Mr Geoffrey Mulei CEO Inkisha (centre) the lead entrepreneur organising a hook-up dinner at Strathmore University to connect start-ups to investors at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES). Thirty entrepreneurs from Kenya and across the world will Friday bag Sh3 million during the youth and women competition at the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi. WILLIAM OERI | NATION 

By JOSHUA MASINDE
More by this Author

Thirty entrepreneurs from Kenya and across the world will Friday bag Sh3 million during the youth and women competition at the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi.

The Spark the Fire pitch competition, which is taking place Friday, has attracted entrepreneurs from around the world.

The Spark the Fire Champion winner will bag Sh1 million, the highest individual cash prize in a competition overseen by judges who include The Case Foundation chief executive, Jean Case, and representatives from the US.

African Development Foundation (USADF), Vulcan Capital, Airbnb and Barclays.

The final competition will be moderated by Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Richard Stengel. The judges will select winners after a series of afternoon pitches.

TAKE HOME

The Spark the Fire Catalyst winner will take home Sh700,000 with the Spark the Fire Startup Winner taking home a cash prize of Sh300,000.

Winners in the USADF African Impact Award and the USADF top woman-owned African business award will each take home a cash prize of Sh500,000.

Additional prizes include Sh500,000 in Airbnb travel accommodations awarded to top five winners.

Other participants will get a chance to win entry to the Milken Institute Global Conference worth Sh1 million and a chance to win entry to DEMO Africa valued at Sh30,000.

The Spark The Fire Pitch Competition will take place from 2:00 to 4:00 PM (Kenya time). The Final Pitch competition, where six finalists from the earlier competition will present to the youth and women audience and a jury of top investors, will occur from 5:00 to 6:00 pm

advertisement

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Celebrities listed among GES panelists

International hip-hop sensation Aliaune Damala,

International hip-hop sensation Aliaune Damala, popularly known as Akon, at a joint press briefing with East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism cabinet secretary Phyllis Kandie in Nairobi on September 19, 2014. Akon is among the celebrities on the list of GES panelists. FILE 

By LILIAN OCHIENG
More by this Author

Celebrities are among mentors listed at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit which will accommodate over 150 established youth and entrepreneurs.

The GES summit organisers said in a statement that hip hop artist Akon, world renowned chef José Andrés, Fubu founder Daymond John, Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri, and UN Youth Envoy Ahmad Alhendawi are among celebrities who will nurture startups.

The select group of youth and women entrepreneurs will share their success stories at the event which kicks off on Saturday morning. They will also take part in skills trainings, participate in a pitch competition, and hear from dynamic speakers (celebrities).

The speakers were chosen because of their success in their specific sectors as youth who are renowned worldwide.

Entrepreneurs will be joined by high-level US government officials, including Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, administrator of the Small Business Administration Maria Contreras-Sweet, acting Administrator of USAID Alfonso Lenhardt, ambassador at-large for Global Women’s Issues Catherine Russell, and Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel.

The GES Youth and Women Day is supported by the U.S. Government in partnership with the Government of Kenya and the Global Entrepreneurship Network.

advertisement

Thursday, July 23, 2015

167 Kenyan entrepreneurs to get financing

Nigerian billionaire Tony Elumelu (right) with

Nigerian billionaire Tony Elumelu (right) with Parminder Vir, director of Entrepreneurship at the Tony Elumelu Foundation. PHOTO | COURTESY | 

By JOSHUA MASINDE
More by this Author

At least 167 Kenyan entrepreneurs will benefit from a Sh500 million fund set aside by Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme to support 1,000 young businesspeople across Africa.

The African-based entrepreneurship programme is funded by Nigeria’s business mogul, Tony Elumelu, who made the announcement today ahead of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) that takes place from July 24 – 26 in Nairobi.

“The programme operates with the belief that entrepreneurship and business skills are teachable and learnable and that, once the aspiring entrepreneurs gains these skills then have the fundamentals tools to grow successful enterprises,” Mr Elumelu said.

The 1,000 entrepreneurs were selected from 21,000 thousand applicants across Africa, with Kenya having the single largest number of beneficiaries after Nigeria.

The funding will be issued in two tranches of $5,000 each for initial seed fund (grant) and equity or debt later once the enterprises develop.

Once the business enterprises mature, the beneficiaries will be supported by the programme to pitch their ideas to global investors for capital injection.

ONLINE TRAINING

The beneficiaries have already undergone a 12-week online training, which culminated on a two-day boot camp in Nigeria early this month.

Businessmen, venture capitalists, philanthropists and global corporations are in Kenya shopping for talent and market opportunities as Kenya hosts the GES, which will be addressed by US President Barack Obama.

Mr Elumelu, a Nigerian billionaire philanthropist and chairman of United Bank for Africa is among investors visiting Kenya for GES. His initiative, the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme has set aside Sh10 billion to support 10,000 entrepreneurs in Africa in the next 10 years.

“Given that 122 million young Africans will enter the labor force by 2020, and tens of millions are already unemployed or underemployed, we need to look at creative ways to generate the jobs for African youths. With luck, Africa's critically needed investments in infrastructure will materialize and provide some measure of continent-wide employment. But the rest of the job gap will need to be filled from small and medium enterprises; just like it is in America and the rest of the developed world,” Mr Elumelu said.

“As Kenyans, the success of this great nation lies in the creation and development of sustainable local businesses. These finalists represent Kenya’s great entrepreneurial spirit.

The success of their business will create much sort after employment for many Kenyans in the years to come as well as play a huge role in the collective realization of our country’s ambitions,” UBA Kenya chief executive officer, Mr Isaac Mwige said.

advertisement

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Developers push for laws to remove registration hurdles

A real estate project on the outskirts of Nanyuki Town in Laikipia County. FILE PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI

A real estate project on the outskirts of Nanyuki Town in Laikipia County. FILE PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ALLAN OLINGO
More by this Author

Mr Harun Nyamboki is developing the second phase of his 3,000-unit Moke Gardens in Lukenya, about four kilometres from Athi River. The first phase comprising 32 maisonettes sold out.

“I have already broken ground for this development that will have apartments, shopping malls, and recreational areas. However, my greatest headache is how to register these units,” he says, adding that it was easier with the first phase.

Like other developers, Mr Nyamboki is worried because most of these developments target mortgage buyers, whose property charge takes at least six months, leaving the developers incurring losses as the mortgages are processed.

“If the buyers need to arrange for mortgages, most banks insist on having the property valued again because of the changed circumstances.

That means that each of these clients will want to have their own advocate while at the same time dealing with advocates from the more than 30 mortgage providers in the country,” Mr Nyamboki says. “What this means is that there will be hundreds of people chasing after one mother title file, thereby slowing down registration. Meanwhile, I will be servicing my development mortgages, which eat into my profits.”

It is this situation that has seen stakeholders under the Kenya Private Developers Association (KPDA) push for the amendment of the Sectional Properties Act and the enactment of the Proposed Shared Communities Bill to overcome these hurdles.

Also unhappy are buyers using mortgage, who have not been able to enjoy the off-plan purchase prices because banks only charge property that is already developed.

Mr Pete Muraya, one of the leading proponents of the new legislation, says that the current law is too complex and makes registration a tedious and time consuming process.

LANDS MINISTRY

“All the blame has been heaped on the lands ministry but the truth is that it’s a whole sector players’ issue – from the ministry to the banks. This circus is hurting both the developers and buyers as it adds more than 40 per cent of the cost to the final price, which is borne by the purchaser,” Mr Muraya says.

He says the proposed Shared Communities Bill and Amendments to the Sectional Properties Act will reduce both the time and process of registering individual units and will enable buyers to have their new homes charged as collateral in a much shorter time.

“The proposals are currently being drafted by lawyers at the lands ministry before they are presented to the Cabinet. Thereafter, they will be drafted into a Bill and taken to Parliament for debate.

In the current set up, property developers who wish to register apartments circumvent the Sectional Properties Act by using sub-lease titles and management companies.

“For us to register any unit within the current land laws, we have to do a search for the mother title. Thereafter, the sub leases are issued to set the ball rolling. It takes even longer for mortgage buyers,” Mr Muraya says.

For instance, when the Moke Gardens units are compete, 3,000 clients will be seeking to have their properties registered. If each one has an advocate, that will make 3,000 advocates chasing after a single mother title.

Assuming that 40 per cent of these are mortgage buyers, there will be 1,200 advocates dealing with the banks. Add a further 1,000 valuations to be done, which also rely on the mother title, and the whole process is clogged up.

“That’s a scenario the new laws are seeking to eliminate. We have proposed radical changes that will see the process ease up both at the lands ministry, and with mortgage registration. This means that we will be able to register mortgages than is currently the case,” Mr Muraya says.

INDIVIDUAL TITLES

The Sectional Property Amendment 2015 proposes to subdivide the title so that a developer can hold individual title deeds. This will enable the buyer or banks to conduct an official search for an individual parcel of land.

Another notable proposal is to allow banks to charge a mortgage at the onset of the development, giving the buyers the advantage of purchasing a unit off-plan, which comes at a lower cost.

“We are also happy that the new laws will standardise the documentation in mortgage purchase, which means that all banks will use a standard document, as opposed to the current situation, where every bank has its own documents,” Mr Muraya says.

Last month, the Kenya Institute of Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) presented the preliminary findings of a study in document titled Registration of Property in Kenya, which revealed a multiplicity of procedures and agencies, and lack of clear roles for Ministry of Lands and the National Land Commission.

During a policy dialogue, Prof Joseph Kieyah of KIPPRA said the procedure for registering property remains largely unchanged despite the recent regulatory reforms, addin that in some instances, it introduces more delays and increases bureaucracy.

“During the study, we were able to identify the importance of a clean, efficient and effective digitised land registries with clean while at the same time rationalising functions to ensure efficiency,” Mr Kieyah said.

During a stakeholders briefing, Kenya Property Developers Association (KPDA) Chief Executive Elizabeth Mwangi said it would be futile for the government to push developers to put up more than 200,000 units annually when registering them is a problem.

“No developer would like to sit on these units as the cost wouldn’t be on their side. We would welcome the fast-tracking of these amendments so that the industry can be vibrant again.” Ms Mwangi said.

advertisement

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Local SME partners with US data health firm

President of IMPACT Prof Mihaela Ulieru. PHOTO

President of IMPACT Prof Mihaela Ulieru. PHOTO | LILIAN OCHIENG | 

By LILIAN OCHIENG
More by this Author

Nairobi headquartered, Africa Telerad has clinched a deal that will see US data health firm - Institute of Digital Economy (IMPACT) invest millions of shillings in the business.

The Kenyan Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) has a turnover of Sh6million. It is part of an SME group that was lined up to tap into US investors attending the USA – Kenya Trade delegation with a promise to collectively invest over Sh20 billion through mergers and partnerships in Kenya.

CONTROL OVER THEIR HEALTH

“We chose Telerad Africa to be our representatives for Africa. They will extend our links into their ecosystem by linking hospitals so that there is a unified way patients have control on their health through data systems,” said Prof Mihaela Ulieru President of IMPACT while signing the deal in Nairobi Wednesday.

She added that her firm will deploy infrastructure at Africa Telerad, this will also help government health ministry track diseases countrywide and keep a data base of disease breakouts.

Ms Nyokabi Kaguthi the founder and director of Africa Telerad, an X-ray report clinic, said that, “part of the agreement we have signed involves partnerships that will see IMPACT expand the scope of our business as we also grow the business to give them access to the African continent, starting with East Africa.”

advertisement

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

US firms eye partnerships with local SMEs

Director Trade Assist International Fidelis

Director Trade Assist International Fidelis Wanjiku and Dr Harold Smith of OyaGen USA during the two day USA- Kenya Trade Direct Business Forum that kicked off Tuesday at The Royal Orchid Hotel, Nairobi. The two are part of a team organising partnerships with local SMEs at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. PHOTO | LILIAN OCHIENG | 

By LILIAN OCHIENG
More by this Author

Over 20 representatives from US firms are in Kenya to collectively invest over Sh20 billion in partnership with small and medium enterprises.

Speaking at the USA- Kenya Trade Direct Business Forum in Nairobi Tuesday, Dr Malcom Beech President of the Greater Washington National Business league said the team is looking for lasting relationships with Kenyan entrepreneurs that will deepen trade ties.

“Big businesses are eating up all revenue in the developed world, they are capturing all attention leaving SME without capital and support for their businesses, we want to partner with local businesses and set up local plants that will enhance US-Kenya trade relations,” said Dr Beech.

The expatriates are organising the summit ahead of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit scheduled later this week. They want to create a rapport with local SME in energy, oil and gas, building and construction, education, media, health and horticulture to help them grow their businesses.

US power generation firm Africa Energy Resources for instance is looking to use garbage as the raw material for electric power production. It plans to set up a Sh3 billion plant, the firm said Nairobi is strategic because it has a population of 5 million people generating enough garbage daily.

ELECTRICITY

“We plan to put the garbage to use by turning it into electricity,” said Dr Beech who is the managing director of the firm.

Ibex Initiatives Inc a US project development firm looks to partner with SME in real estate, health and energy sectors. Crown Jewel Hospitality wants to partner with hotels and entertainment firms that are growing.

Other firms are Green Fuel solutions, Arc Angle Global Media, Biometric ID and Identity Management Solutions and Rosenthal Group.

Dr Maurice Kinyanjui Managing Director of Ibex Initiatives said the delegation has long time plans to nurture Kenyan entrepreneur with business skills and connect them to the US trade market.

“SME is the only way Kenya will build its economy, customers in the US are waiting for products from the region, we can provide the link through partnerships,” said Kinyanjui.

Dr Harold Smith who owns OyaGen a biotechnology firm said he wants to work with pharmaceutical firms by setting up a firm in Kenya to help produce drugs in Africa for Africans, addressing diseases locally.

KenInvest General Manager Pius Rotich urged the firms not to shy away from investing, he said that Kenya offers many investment opportunities that have seen the ease of doing business in the country increase.

advertisement

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

How start-ups plan to catch the eye of global investors

Mr Geoffrey Mulei CEO Inkisha (centre) the lead

Mr Geoffrey Mulei CEO Inkisha (centre) the lead entrepreneur organising a hook-up dinner at Strathmore University to connect start-ups to investors at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES). Thirty entrepreneurs from Kenya and across the world will Friday bag Sh3 million during the youth and women competition at the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi. WILLIAM OERI | NATION 

By LILIAN OCHIENG
More by this Author

As Kenya gears up to host the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, start-ups are coming out in droves, warming up for the opportunities that the landmark event would present.

Mr Geoffrey Mulei, a young entrepreneur is busy organising a ‘hook-up dinner’ — an event that aims at connecting entrepreneurs to venture capitalists and multinationals that are scheduled to attend the international summit.

Over 200 start-up entrepreneurs will meet at the ‘hook-up dinner’ on Friday, July 24. The event planners have networks across Africa. The forum, which is sponsored by the US embassy, is usually held prior to the GES to help start-ups showcase their ideas and connect with corporations and individuals who have the capacity to give them a hand up.

“As the CEO of the Kenyan chapter of the GES hook-up event, I will present the ideas of the group of entrepreneurs at the summit,” Mr Mulei told Money.

At the dinner start-up owners with ideas are poised to change the world will network, pitch ideas, hold aspirational talks and start establishing networks.

Mr Dan Awendo is the chief executive at InvesteQ CAPITAL Limited. The management consultant and financial analyst will coach the budding entrepreneurs on how to package their ideas to catch the eye of investors.

He has vast knowledge in building up start-ups having honed skills in various professional training some sponsorship by the US government.

With Mr Mulei in the push for start-ups to attract global investors is Ms Tracy Mbeneka, a senior event coordinator, who has been busy mobilising Kenyan youth to exhibit their businesses.

Ms Mbeneka said the dinner is a warm up to the GES and it will see start–ups pitch their ideas in just three minutes. This will happen before a panel of venture capitalists, successful entrepreneurs and prospective financiers.

The hook-up dinner has previously been a success ahead of the GES event held in Marrakech, Morocco in 2014. The summit attracted nearly 4,000 entrepreneurs, government and thought leaders.

Mr Mulei said that Coca-Cola, General Electric, IBM Research Africa, Kenya-based Qwanza Capital, Investec Deers and Samchi Credit have confirmed attendance. The firms have interests in youth start-ups at the GES.

Some of the corporations that will be at the GES summit are: Coca-Cola, Citi Group, GE Africa, Ernst & Young, Google, IBM, MasterCard Foundation, Chase Kenya, Walmart, Rendeavour, Simba Corporation among others.

Ahead of the 2014 GES in Morocco, the hook-up dinner held a feeder event that was successful at connecting entrepreneurs to venture capitalists.

From the Morocco GES, The Wall Street Journal reported that US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker saw prime avenues for American multinationals to partner with local start-ups.

GROW NETWORKS

Ms Pritzker said she will create, “some sort of capital trade mission” aimed at bringing American venture capitalists and other financiers in contact with entrepreneurs in various regions around the world.

The GES in Kenya will be held between July 24-26 where over 3,000 delegates from various sectors are expected to discuss investments and business ideas. Youth-run start-ups are expected to take advantage of the opportunities that will grow their networks and businesses.

Only 175 Kenyan entrepreneurs will be expected into the main site while 1,200 will be drawn from across the globe. The proceedings will also be streamed live to enable as many interested people as possible to participate in the three-day summit.

Entrepreneurs will also benefit from a two-day expo with more than 200 exhibitors at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre. Kenya will be the sixth country to host the GES.

According to Mr Mulei, start-ups must have strong ideas that are well packaged for presentation to venture capitalists since they are scouting for big, innovative ideas that solve problems and attract money as well.

“They will learn to get over challenges faced in every day start-up set ups, for instance, Africapitalism (entrepreneur trainer Tony Elumelu’s firm) will coach them on how to push for change of policies based on feedback received on start-ups,” said Mr Mulei.

Start-ups should also expect to be taken through how to register their companies and own the identity that comes with it. For people facing difficulties in starting businesses, they will be trained on how to overcome that jinx.

BUSINESS SUPPORT

Also, there will be corporates willing to face the government and donors on behalf of budding entrepreneurs who are looking for funding and general business support.

The senior adviser to the presidency on international relations Ruth Kagia, who is playing a key role in organising the event, said the conference will yield memorable results and transform the way Kenyans approach entrepreneurship going forward.

“The GES will deepen our business ties with the US. We expect new business partnerships to be announced at the event, entrepreneurs will benefit massively” Ms Kagia told Money.

Accompanying Mr Mulei is budding start-up owner Mr Martin Ruga, a portfolio manager at Marusa Holdings. He recently started up a chocolate firm — Larouge Fraise ‘The Red Straw Berry’, which encourages healthy eating.

Mr Ruga is upbeat, saying although he will not attend the GES, he will be at the hook-up dinner. At the GES, Mr Mulei will present a profile of all the start-ups to help them attract funding.

MENTOR
Mr Ruga, 23, is looking for partners to distribute his brand. He would also be happy to get about Sh2 million to expand his outfit. He holds a degree in international business administration from the United States International University (USIU) and has been in business for the past three years.
With him is Mr Koome Mwiti, the founder of Techshare — a software development company.

“We develop applications. We’re currently building an anti-counterfeit software for the Kenya Bureau of Standards,” said Mr Mwiti, 34, who also studied international business administration at USIU.

Mr Mwiti wants partnerships with the corporations that deal with apps and have succeeded in marketing their products. He also needs a mentor in the software business.

Entrepreneurs should also be keen to identify high growth opportunities and know how to create long lasting impressions of their businesses.

advertisement

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Web designer who started from home

Oracom Web Solutions Ltd owner Alphonce Juma

Oracom Web Solutions Ltd owner Alphonce Juma (right) and his corporate client relations manager Maurice Ogola. PHOTO | CORRESPONDENT 

By MILLICENT MWOLOLO
More by this Author

As the world turns into a global village, the need for companies to have online presence continues to grow. It is this thirst by firms that a technology start-up Oracom Web Solutions Limited seeks to quench.

As a fresh graduate of information sciences from Moi University, Mr Juma was employed for a year before he quit job in 2010 to set up his business of website design and development from his rental house in Kayole. His seed capital? Sh2,000, he said.

A few months later, he moved his office to Nairobi’s River Road where within a year, he got deals from 10 companies but there was a problem. He needed a better office location so that he can build confidence in his growing customer base.

This saw him move to a servant quarter in Kileleshwa. But it was not until 2013 when he came up with a web-portal — myAspirant, myLeader — a plan that turned his fortunes for the better. The portal hosted messages and manifestos from politicians during the General Election.

And last year, Oracom moved its offices to Westlands, Nairobi where a team of 15 employees now works from. “They are very creative and resourceful in bringing in new ideas. They understand the market dynamics,” said the owner of Oracom, a firm he estimates to be worth Sh20 million.

Oracom is now receiving clients from Tanzania, Uganda Canada, US, UK and UAE. In December 2014, the start-up handled the marketing for the Kenya Diaspora Networking Conference, which was held at Daystar University.

The company has just launched the ‘acpDirectory Kenya’ service, a feature that is embedded in the websites it develops so that customers who are interested in a particular product can call or SMS for free or even email. “With the ‘acpDirectory Kenya’, clients call and order for free and they also get a map with the business location. This is an opportunity that has given e-commerce an edge,” he said.

DIASPORA

Being a young company boss Mr Juma had to hire a seasoned hand to help him steer the start-up. And that is how his corporate clients relations manager Maurice Ogola came in.

“He was the face of the company when we were organising the diaspora event and the experience just changed,” he adds. With servers in the UK and back-ups in Canada and Dubai, their clients are assured of optimum service round-the-clock.

With a monthly turn-over of between Sh600,000 and Sh900,000, the firm is big on bulk SMS. It does about 40 per cent of all SMSs dispatched in Kenya. It also offers email marketing, social media marketing, domain registration and hosting and photography.

“We are now doing stories for companies using photos and videos,” said Mr Juma. This, he says, makes the sites interactive. “A website has to project the right image to prospective customers and investors,” he said.

Since its set up, Mr Juma had to stick to a tight budget, ploughing back a huge percentage of his profits.

For his family that did not take kindly his idea of quitting a job: “They have realised it is possible and they support me,” he says.

Over the years, he has been able to beat competition from upcoming web-developers. “It is not about doing a website. It is about empowering the client, and walking together.”

Evolving technology has also meant that he has to work hard.

He asks the youth to forget about making money overnight. “You’ve to be persistent, resilient and above all, pursue your passion. This way you will give it your all.”

advertisement

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Place quality at the heart of all that you do

Your chama may be weighed down by a few conservative members; here’s how to get round that.

We all want quality service and quality goods, yet few of us ever pause to reflect on the kind of quality we give others. FILE PHOTO 

By DAVID MUTURI
More by this Author

We all want quality service and quality goods, yet few of us ever pause to reflect on the kind of quality we give others.

How legitimate is our demand for quality, based on the quality that we give others? Do we have moral authority to demand quality? Do we see the bigger picture of quality in whatever we do? The story is told of how, one day, a traveller came across three stonecutters working in a quarry.

Each was busy cutting a block of stone. Interested to find out what they were working on, he asked the first stonecutter what he was doing. “I am cutting a stone,” he said. Still not any wiser the traveller turned to the second stonecutter and asked him what he was doing.

“I am cutting this block of stone to make sure that its square, and its dimensions are uniform, so that it will fit exactly in its place in a wall.”

STONECUTTERS

A little closer to finding out what the stonecutters were working on but still unclear, the traveller turned to the third stonecutter. He seemed to be the happiest of the three and when asked what he was doing he replied, “I am building a cathedral.”

Putting the three stonecutters into perspective the first stonecutter was just making a living. He is at the subsistence level. He does what he got to do because he has to eat and possibly feed others, otherwise no much thought to it.

The second worker is trying to make the best out of a job he has found himself in. However, he does not see much beyond the job. He will try to do the best in whichever job he finds himself. The third and the happiest sees the bigger picture. It is not just stonecutting but building a cathedral.

MAKING SACRIFICES

When you are a stonecutter, you are likely to hit yourself occasionally. Just like in most jobs, things will not always be pleasant. As you occasionally hit yourself, read daily job challenges.

What do you see? Do you see the drudgery of having to make a living – striving to eat? Or do you see the pains of trying to do a good job you have only found yourself in? Do you see yourself making the sacrifices of being part of a team for the attainment of a higher goal?

If your focus is fuzzy, you might be tempted to claim that the goal has not been effectively shared. Is this true or is it an excuse? You may wish to start by examining your personal greater goal.

What is this one thing that you would want to be associated with your daily effort? This is what will define the level at which you operate. It is what will drive your daily happiness without having to wait for external motivation.

Quality is paramount in all we do. There are seven critical principles of quality. The first is customer focus. This relates to customer needs and customer service. You should understand your customer’s expectations, be they internal or external, and seek to exceed their expectations.

Another one is leadership. This relates to the direction of the organisation. It should have clear objectives and employees should be actively involved in achieving this.

It helps to keep everyone in the loop, in terms of what you seek to achieve. This resonates very well with the next principle of people involvement. When people feel that their skills are being used well, they are more likely to work to their maximum potential and contribute ideas.

PROCESS

There is then the process approach. This relates to efficiency and effectiveness. It helps to know that appropriate processes will speed up activities and get more work accomplished with minimal resources.

This is why it is important to use system approach to management. What does this mean? You identify, understand and manage interrelated processes as a system, with focus on overall organisational effectiveness and efficiency in attaining its objectives.

This leads to the need to engage in continual learning, aware that systems and organisations are organic. What works today may not work tomorrow. You therefore need to seek continuous improve. As you do this however you make fact-based decisions.

Finally, you must address good supply chain relations. You cannot achieve this on your own. You need others, who must also appreciate that they need you as well. This creates the desirable mutual respect.

Dr Muturi is the executive director, Kenya Institute of Management.

advertisement

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Traders struggle to cash in on visit

Kenyan artist Yegonizer poses next to his paintings depicting US President Barack Obama on July 15, 2015 at the Go Down Art Centre in Nairobi. Excitement is growing in Kenya ahead of US President Barack Obama's first in late July visit to his father's homeland since becoming president. AFP PHOTO

Kenyan artist Yegonizer poses next to his paintings depicting US President Barack Obama on July 15, 2015 at the Go Down Art Centre in Nairobi. Excitement is growing in Kenya ahead of US President Barack Obama's first in late July visit to his father's homeland since becoming president. AFP PHOTO  

Most small-scale traders in Nairobi have no idea what to sell to make money from the much-anticipated visit by US President Barack Obama.

Although the American President is set to jet in on Friday, the traders are not sure about what would excite consumers, unlike their colleagues in Kisumu.

In Kisumu, the traders are reportedly making good business selling President Obama’s merchandise that includes, branded T-Shirts and caps. They have also been selling his portraits.

“I am aware that President Obama is coming. Radio stations, TVs and newspapers remind us every day, but I have not seen anyone interested in buying his merchandise,” said a trader, who sells clothes and other assorted goods at Munyu Road near Ramogi Studio in Nairobi.

The trader, who identified himself only as Mariga, said he learnt through the media that his colleagues in Kisumu have been doing brisk business.

For the owners or managements of city Five-Star hotels, improved business is guaranteed. Most of them are fully booked as Kenya prepares to host the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which President Obama will attend.

A spot check in Nairobi yesterday showed traders are yet to start painting the town red in preparation for the historic visit.

Like Mr Mariga, traders do not know what to do to make handsome profits during the tour by the President of the most powerful nation.

President Obama has roots in Kenya. His late father, Barack Hussein Obama (Snr), was a Kenyan, who married Ann Dunham, the US President’s mother in 1961, and they divorced three years later.
Mr Obama Snr was a student at the University of Hawaii in the US when he met Ms Dunham.

advertisement

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Horticulture sector to face higher standards

A worker packs flowers for export at Finlays in

A worker packs flowers for export at Finlays in Naivasha, Nakuru County on February 10, 2015. The horticulture sector players will now be expected to comply with new standards that spell out code of practice in the horticulture industry. FILE 

By YVONNE KAWIRA
More by this Author

The horticulture sector players will now be expected to comply with new standards that spell out code of practice in the horticulture industry, following the revision of standards.

The revised horticulture code of practice will apply to all players in the industry ranging from growers, propagators, breeders, consolidators, shippers, and cargo handlers.

According to the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs), Managing Director, Charles Ongwae the standards require the operators in the sector to observe hygienic and safety requirements during the production, handling, and marketing of flowers and ornamentals.

“The recommendations made in the revised standard call for quality production and marketing of flowers and ornamentals under appropriate environmental conditions,” said Mr Ongwae.

Kenya Flower Council (KFC), revised the standards, a move that was commended by Mr Ongwae, saying that this will improve labour practices and environmental conservation efforts of the sector.

“This will make Kenyan flowers remain globally competitive,” Mr Ongwae said.

HARMONISED

KFC Chief Executive Ms Jane Ngige, said that the revised code was harmonised with existing international codes on good agricultural practices and guidelines.

“This is intended to enhance farm assurance systems, compliance to the relevant laws of Kenya and strict adherence to safe use of chemicals and the international standards,” said Ms Ngige.

Mr Ongwae also announced that a new standard for fresh fruits and vegetables will soon be launched soon.

According to the KFC CEO, lack of acceptable and enforceable standard that addresses all the concerns of the industry has led to some of the stakeholders ignoring some of the requirements for accessing the international flower market.

“We urge all horticulture stakeholders across the value chain to be registered as members of recognized associations. This will increase accountability and entrench the adoption of the standards in managing the industry,” urged Ms Ngige.

The standard revision was initiated by the Kenya Flower Council after a successful nation-wide compliance mechanism project.

Statistics from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, indicate that cut flower exports rose by 11.7 per cent during the first Quarter of 2015. The flower sector is one of the leading export earner in the agricultural sector.

advertisement

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Pay taxes, BIDCO chief Vimal Shah tells start-ups

By YVONNE KAWIRA
More by this Author

Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) chairman Vimal Shah has urged young entrepreneurs to comply with tax regulations at the onset of their businesses.

According to Mr Shah, this move plays a major role especially when it comes to seeking financing.

“You might think you can get away with it because you are just a start-up, but this eventually catches up with you at a later stage and it does not end well. So always pay your taxes, declare your turnovers to the relevant authorities and you will have no reason to hide from anyone in future,” he said.

The young entrepreneurs, who were sourced from various learning institutions, have projects ranging from non-governmental organisations, information and technology, women empowerment and environmental conservation, among others.

RESILIENT

The entrepreneur and chief executive of BIDCO Oil Refineries also called on the young entrepreneurs to be resilient and patient in their ventures especially at the start and when they take long to pick.

He said that success does not happen overnight, and therefore urged them to come up with bankable projects that can attract investors and result in profitable businesses in time.

Mr Shah was speaking at the "25 Under 25 Years" award ceremony gala for innovators and entrepreneurs on at a Nairobi hotel Wednesday.

The 25 finalists were selected from more than 60 applicants who demonstrated exceptional leadership initiative, innovation capacity, creativity and sustainability and are engaging in activities that have visible impact on the society.

advertisement

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Hong Kong venture capital firm opens Africa base in Nairobi

Software developers at work at iHub offices situated at Bishop Magua Plaza on Ngong Road Nairobi. The incubation lab provides young techpreneurs with the infrastructure to enable them launch their start-ups and take products to the market. Photo/File

Software developers at work at iHub offices situated at Bishop Magua Plaza on Ngong Road Nairobi. Hong Kong based investment incubation firm- Nest- opened its first office in Africa, in Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE 

By YVONE KAWIRA
More by this Author

Hong Kong based investment incubation firm- Nest- opened its first office in Africa, in Nairobi.
The venture capital firm is seeking to provide access to funding and making introductions to successful entrepreneurs. The firm primarily targets investments that are typically seed or startup phase companies.

According to a statement from the firm, the office is its first in Africa and is expected to serve the entire continent.

The firm will be headed by Aaron Fu as the Managing Partner in Africa. Mr Fu was previously Standard Chartered Bank’s head of digital banking in Africa where he spearheaded the financial institution’s digital sales framework across the continent.

“The office in Nairobi will act as a launchpad for Africa and startups from across the continent will be encouraged to apply for funding and support,” read the statement from the firm.

Fu’s primary focus will be to connect the region’s most promising entrepreneurs with Nest’s start up system through marketing, strategy, funding and network.

EXCITING TALENT

“Kenya is an exciting frontier market and Nest has the opportunity to be one of the first overseas organisations to make an impact and accelerate the growth of startups in Silicon Savannah,” Mr Fu said.

According to Nest CEO Simson Squibb, the move to invest in Africa has been informed by the existence of exciting talent in the continent.

“We can enhance access to financial services and develop effective education and healthcare technologies that reach the bottom of the pyramid and directly impact people’s lives,” said Mr Squibb.

Nest has so far invested in 49 companies over the last five years and has pioneered the corporate accelerator program in Hong Kong across the sectors including HealthTech, FinTech and Smart Cities sectors among others.

“We already have a presence in London and US and we look to bring this extended network network to Africa’s entrepreneurs,” Mr Squibb said.

advertisement