As Global Entrepreneurship Week celebrations fade, efforts to strengthen year-round programs to support entrepreneurs and help them grow continue to gain momentum. In Nairobi, John Wali helped launch GEN Kenya last summer and, after leading yet another successful GEW, is making inroads to support a local and global entrepreneurship ecosystem.
“There are different activities and programs going on in Kenya around the entrepreneurship agenda,” said Wali. “And GEN will serve as the aggregating point for all the actors in the space. When this happens, synergies will be created that will take entrepreneurship in Kenya – and the region – to the next level. Especially in supporting entrepreneurs and policymakers.”
Kenya has been involved with GEW activities since 2009, and recently developed a GEN country entity. Wali believes a strong coordinated effort between organizations and events will expand the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Kenya, and in Africa as well. GEW is a key event Kenya hosts to bring together major ecosystem actors, and made up of multiple programs throughout the week.
“GEW provides a unique platform to celebrate and inspire the spirit of entrepreneurship,” he said. “This allows us in entrepreneurship education to not only showcase, but to also demonstrate the significant impact and contribution of entrepreneurship to the growth of Kenya’s economy.”
He said Global Entrepreneurship Week provides an opportunity for actors to collaborate, but to also identify partnership and networking possibilities to drive creativity and innovation. It’s about providing the environment conducive to a successful startup and scale-up culture.
GEN Kenya works with more than 50 partners each year, and engages more than 30,000 participants. The organization is a Kenya Vision 2030 partner, the country’s development blueprint, which recognizes the significant role of entrepreneurship in driving development of both Kenya and the region. The country was also host to the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which featured U.S. President Barack Obama as a speaker.
Outside of Junior Achievement, other organizations have become involved in GEW Kenya initiatives. WECREATE | KENYA provides mentorship and resources to female entrepreneurs who would like to participate in capacity-building programming and events.
GEN, with the Mara Foundation, the Case Foundation and the U.S. Small Business Administration, held the first Women’s Venture Xchange-Africa Initiative for four women entrepreneurs across the continent. The entrepreneurs completed a month-long exchange and mentorship program in Nairobi.
The Creative Business Cup startup competition is one of Wali’s favorite GEW events. Women and Youth (WAY) Entrepreneurship Conference and the SLUM Fest for youth entrepreneurs are two other top events for Wali.
“Kenya provides a model for resilience beyond entrepreneurial creativity and innovation – enhancing collaboration within the ecosystem,” said Wali. “I believe that it is through intentional partnerships much can be achieved.”
Photo Credit: SPREP, "Youth Empowering Youth" by Brianna Fruean