Kenya has right mix of talent to excel

Thursday February 9 2017

Learners at the iHub innovation hub in Nairobi in 2015. PHOTO | STELLAR MURUMBA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Learners at the iHub innovation hub in Nairobi in 2015. PHOTO | STELLAR MURUMBA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Some start-ups face huge challenges as they grow. Many innovators encounter bottlenecks as they commercialise their ideas. However, many young Kenyans are endowed with refined ideas that require a boost just enough to transform them into enterprises.

In my interactions with many young and ambitious Kenyans, one thing is evident. It is that as Kenyans, we may be poor but there is no poverty in generating fresh transformative ideas.

Israel is a hub of start-ups. Many groundbreaking ideas and later companies thrive in this tiny country of diverse cultures. But this is beyond the thought that Jews are geniuses. It is about the warm culture and attitude of the Israeli.

Ideas flourish in an environment that embraces an inquisitive culture. For example, an army boss can be criticised and corrected by a junior officer, including questioning their suitability for their respective positions

This culture prospers in Israel and it greatly contributes to the vivid, innovative, refreshing ideas and enterprises that arise from this Promised Land. For this reason, many Western companies have their engines and think tanks hosted in Israel. It is fertile ground for progressive ideas.

Back home, for the economy to grow, entrepreneurship should be a key component and ingredient in our progression. We need to encourage robust entrepreneurship that drives our economy to adopt a mix that blends both labour intensive ventures and innovative, efficient technology driven enterprises.


Entrepreneurship makes sense when value is a mix of results. And the right mix should offer employment opportunities, add value to raw materials and make life easier and more efficient. This approach should be embraced even as we promote a culture of entrepreneurship.

Picture this; the most valuable start-ups globally are IT-driven. Interestingly, most if not all rely on physical assets. Indeed, few require much start-up financing capital.

In this era, the leaner the business the better. The less the dependence on physical assets the better. In turn, this is substituted with new kind of resources and assets. Technology-driven enterprises count ingenuity, patents and human resource as the most important combination of assets. They are based on imagination and unquantifiable assets that change by day.

Kenya must not be left behind as the world moves towards friction free economy. We should aspire to be the beacon of innovation and offer solutions to the diverse challenges that bedevils the world economy.

Money transfer was a transformative idea that came about with many advantages to the economy, businesses and our lifestyles.

The youth of Kenya should focus more on value adding ideas as they venture into business with a focus shift to making transactions seamless, efficient, and simpler.

This is happening across the world as we witness companies such as Uber that owns no cars recognised as the largest transportation firm in the world. And with just a few thousand staff, the company now boasts more than Sh6.5 trillion.


In the accommodation domain, AirBnb is disrupting an entire industry by connecting houseowners with those who are looking for a place to stay. With a valuation of over Sh2.5 trillion, it is now appreciated as the largest accommodation company on the globe despite owning no real estate or property. This innovation path is taking over the global economy.

From such ventures, the juiciest news for youth is that no capital intensity is required; just a refined idea that goes beyond current limitations.

The government should consider introducing schemes that target youth such as Uwezo and Youth funds into this kind of opportunities. They should be given an opportunity to access the funds without having to be in groups. We only need a few ideas to work from the pool and value for money will be unbelievably astronomical.

Kenya can become a start-up nation. The country has the right mix of talents and brilliant imaginative minds to knock down the innumerable hurdles that drive the economic wheel to a halt. The time is ripe; the time is now!

Ndindi Nyoro is an economist and entrepreneur.