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Anzisha Insights from the Prize Tour Trail: Why do young Kenyan entrepreneurs thrive?

During this year’s Anzisha Prize tour, two of our team members, Lerato and Melissa, travelled to Nairobi to encourage young Kenyans to apply for the Anzisha Prize and develop partnership with local youth entrepreneurship support organisations. From the moment that they landed in the Jomo Kenyatta airport, it was evident why the Anzisha Prize constantly receives quality applications from Kenya each year. There was a buzz in the city and an exciting energy that was encouraging and sets an example for the direction in which other African countries should be striving towards if they want their young entrepreneurs to thrive.

After spending 5 days in Kenya, Anzisha compiled a non-exhaustive list of reasons why Kenya is leading the way as an incubator for young entrepreneurs.

  1. The support ecosystem

When planning for the trip, it was easy to schedule time with a few entrepreneurship hubs and incubators to see if there were opportunities to collaborate with them and open up applications to the young people that they work with. After a couple of meetings, we were amazed by the number of youth development organisations that we were referred to that were excited to talk to us and collaborate to develop young entrepreneurs. This was exciting as it was an indicator of the type of high quality support that is available for young Kenyans. There are a range of organisations that exist to offer them mentorship, training and practical experiences to help them grow. Below are examples of a few of these organisations.

Akili Dada is a leadership incubator working to increase African women’s access to decision-making.  We offer comprehensive scholarships, personalized mentoring, & rigorous leadership training to promising young women in secondary school who come from underprivileged backgrounds.

Ongoza Youth are inspiring disenfranchised youth to realize economic freedom and to positively contribute to society. They are training and mentoring youth to grow their enterprises and develop social consciousness to make a difference in their communities.

Global Minimum is a charitable international organization that encourages young innovators and leaders in Africa to engage with critical thinking skills and hands-on learning programs to tackle challenges affecting their communities. GMin provides enabling tools, safe spaces, workshops, mentorship, resources and network, ultimately equipping young people in Africa with unique opportunities to take their future into their own hands.

Junior Achievement Kenya is the country’s largest and fastest growing non-profit organization with a mission of inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. We do this by providing key hands on experiential programs that equip the youth with these skills to succeed in work and life.

These were but a handful of organisations that work towards supporting young Kenyan entrepreneurs.

Anzisha Prize Tour hosted by Junior Achievement Kenya
  1. Examples of success

Due to the entrepreneurship buzz and support ecosystem that exists in Kenya, there have been examples of young Kenyans that have been successful business owners. These examples become case studies that inspire other youth to venture in the world of entrepreneurship because if another 21 year old can be successful then they can too. Below are examples of some of the young Kenyan entrepreneurs who are inspirational to their peers.

  • Tom Osborn is founder and Chief Executive Officer of Greenchar. Greenchar provides ecofriendly charcoal briquettes and clean cookstoves to Kenyan households.
  • Geoffrey Mulei is the CEO of Inkisha, describes himself as an entrepreneur with a heart for Africa. Inkisha is an innovative startup designed to increase access to eco-friendly packaging among African consumers by partnering with advertisers and innovative brands.

They are both Anzisha fellows who started very young and serve as an example to why we should invest in young entrepreneurs.

  1. A growing economy

“Kenya is emerging as one of Africa’s key growth centers with sound economic policies in place for future improvement” said Diarietou Gaye, the World Bank’s Country Director for Kenya. Kenya continues to grow and growing economies create jobs, increase competition and increase productivity. This type of environment allows entrepreneurs to exist and the more entrepreneurs exist, the larger their commitment to the growth of the economy. It is important for both the economy to continue to grow and there to be innovation and entrepreneurship in the country so that they feed into each other.

  1. Favourable policies

According to the Review of Government Policies for the Promotion of Micro and Smallscale Enterprises by Eric Ronge, Lydia Ndirangu and Hezron Nyangito which was published in 2002. Kenya has a long history of creating government policies that favour small-scale businesses and enterprises. This paper outlines how the government along with the UNDP and the ILO set up policies that create an enabling environment for enterprises. These policies included the removal of many macroeconomic, legal, technological and fiscal obstacles to smallscale enterprises. This policies seem to still be an advantage to young Kenyan entrepreneurs as is evident in the examples given earlier.

It is important for other African countries to use Kenya as a case study for the development of young entrepreneurs.

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