With less than five weeks until the 10th anniversary of Global Entrepreneurship Week, countries are preparing to mobilize their communities for the celebration – and countries, like Kenya, that have been a part of the movement since its inception are reflecting on how much their GEW campaigns have evolved.
John Wali, the Global Entrepreneurship Week Kenya lead organizer, is also the executive director of the Junior Achievement chapter in Kenya, which is the host organization of GEW Kenya.
Wali said over the past 10 years, the Global Entrepreneurship Week movement in the country has seen immense growth, and has helped strengthen the country’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.
“We have multiple stakeholder partnership between public, private and social sectors to support the growth of entrepreneurship within the country,” said Wali.
And there have been significant changes to the entrepreneurship ecosystem, Wali said, that have helped support and encourage economic development – and fuel the entrepreneurial spirit within Kenya.
“We have government support to ease the process of setting up and running an enterprise in the country,” he said. “We have also seen a development of innovation hubs, which serve the larger margin of budding entrepreneurs in the startup stage – that serves as a source of information, networking and mentorship.”
Wali said Global Entrepreneurship Week has had a positive impact on the country’s ecosystem change – providing an opportunity for Kenyans to celebrate the country’s hard work.
“GEW is a chance to network, strategize and inspire all the stakeholders in the entrepreneurship space globally. I believe that through our participation, we inspire others to join the growing movement of entrepreneurs.”
He said GEW has provided an amazing platform that has enabled players within the entrepreneurship ecosystem to collaborate and realize the tremendous value entrepreneurship contributes to economic growth in Kenya.
“Beyond that, GEW Kenya presents an opportunity to celebrate the successes of entrepreneurs in the country. Since the launch of GEW Kenya, the movement has grown to more than 50 partners, and more than 30,000 participants,” Wali said.
In 2015, Kenya hosted the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, and in 2016, Wali said the country “delivered an entrepreneurship stream during the High Level Meeting on Global Partnerships as a result of GEW, which put Kenya on the global entrepreneurial map.”
One of Wali’s favorite Global Entrepreneurship Week events took place in 2008, when the country launched GEW with Uhuru Kenyatta, the president of Kenya, who was then-minister of finance. He said they started with the goal to unlock the entrepreneurial potential of young people in the country, and to raise awareness of entrepreneurship as a viable career and a pathway to job creation – a passion GEW Kenya still has today.
“The National Youth Entrepreneurship Competitions in 2015 were the most memorable,” Wali said, “because through our National Innovation Challenge, we were not only able to encourage young entrepreneurs in high school, but we went further through crowdfunding, to raise capital for them to realize their ideas. Achieving this feat in high school from Africa? That constantly reminds me of the entrepreneurial potential of Africa. This watershed experience led us to set up a fund to support young entrepreneurs in our programs.”