GLOBAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP SUMMIT: The Experience, The Lessons and the Business.
Entrepreneurs and entrepreneurially minded people from more than 120 countries gathered in Nairobi last week for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) to share experiences and learn more about investment, mentorship, and business development opportunities. The focus was particularly on the youth in a bid to encourage them to nurture entrepreneurial spirit as one solution to the high unemployment rate in Kenya. The fact that the summit had President Obama as co-host speaks about the global importance of the cause. In his opening address he was sure to remind us that Africa is on the move, and that special focus should be set on youth as well as women, who are “powerhouses as entrepreneurs”.
Lessons from the summit
Entrepreneurship can go a long way in reducing the high unemployment that is not only a problem in Kenya but a global concern. There are several lessons that the youth can learn from the summit.
Mentorship – It is important that you get someone who is in business to weigh in on your decisions. People who’ve been in the business will help you anticipate challenges and know how to go about facing them.
Entrepreneurship is not an individual journey – two pairs of hands are always better than one, and a reliable business partner will likely help you get further in a shorter time.
It may be difficult to employ many people when starting off because of financial constraints – But once the business grows, you have to take off some of the hats and assign them to people you know can add value to your business.
Failure is part of entrepreneurship – Many young entrepreneurs get discouraged when the first attempt is not successful. It is the few that keep trying that actually make it. Expect to fail and from the failure, learn. The more you fail, the more you learn and the more are your chances of success.
Ignatius Mwimbi and Patrick Waihenya are a good example of how young jobless graduates are putting their ideas into action. Frustrated by the flooded job market in Kenya, they decided to start a relocation business that is now booming. They encourage the youth not to wait for white collar jobs, but think of ideas that can generate income. Read the full story here.
Watch Daymond John of the Shark Tank narrate his entrepreneurial journey. Mr. John encourages the youth not only to focus on getting jobs but to create them. A great inspiration to many, his perseverance has gotten him to where he is today. He had to close his company three times before it got to where it is now. Watch the full video here.
NAIROBI, Kenya—Widespread celebration of President Barack Obama visit to a country teeming with national pride over an American leader considered a local son was briefly overshadowed Saturday by a public disagreement with his Kenyan counterpart over gay rights.
In an awkward moment of tension, Mr. Obama condemned Kenya’s treatment of gays and lesbians as “wrong—full stop” while standing alongside Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta during a joint news conference.
The president, whose personal story has deep resonance in Kenya, even used himself as an example of why discrimination on the basis of gender, race or sexual orientation should be illegal.
“As an African American in the United States I am painfully aware of what happens when people are treated differently under the law,” said Mr. Obama, whose father was born and raised in Kenya.
But none of it swayed Mr. Kenyatta, who responded by saying his country does not share the U.S. president’s view.
“For Kenyans today the issue of gay rights is really a non-issue,” Mr. Kenyatta said, stressing matter-of-factly that economic and security concerns are of higher concern.
Barack Obama is the first U.S. president to visit Kenya. His busy schedule included speaking at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in the capital of Nairobi. Photo: Getty
Mr. Kenyatta’s comments drew applause from Kenyans attending the news conference, while Mr. Obama looked on expressionless.
Homosexual acts are illegal in Kenya, punishable by 14 years in jail. Kenya has made some recent strides on gay rights. Kenya’s highest court ruled in April that gay and lesbian groups have a right to formally register under constitutional provisions that prohibit discrimination.
But the issue underscores some of the persistent divides between the U.S. and Kenya despite increasing efforts to strengthen ties.
The two leaders, sharing a stage in a leafy courtyard on the grounds of Kenya’s State House, said they made strides on growing security concerns in east Africa with the rise of al Qaeda-affiliated groups.
Kenya in particular has been buffeted by a series of attacks by al Qaeda-linked militants in the past two years—including the deadly four-day siege of a shopping mall in 2013 that killed 67 people and an attack on a university in April that left 148 dead.
Kenyan forces have been a key part of the African force fighting al-Shabaab in Somalia but the government has struggled with how to prevent attacks from the group inside Kenyan borders.
Many of the militants who have launched attacks in Kenya were Kenyan citizens and the government has responded with a fierce crackdown on Muslim communities and Somali refugees—prompting accusations of human rights violations.
Mr. Obama pledged additional U.S. funding and training for the Kenyan security forces to deal with security threats. He also criticized Mr. Kenyatta’s approach of cracking down on specific groups or citizens as one that could backfire by “increasing the pool of recruits for terrorism.”
The U.S., he said, has seen potential “lone wolf” terror attacks but not the formation of systematic networks in part because of its approach to law enforcement.
Unlike on the issue of gay rights, Mr. Kenyatta said he agreed with Mr. Obama and would try to do better.
“This issue of terrorism is new to us,” he said. “We will continue to improve.”
Mr. Obama also made the case the Kenyan government’s infamous corruption is one of the major obstacles to increasing economic success.
In Kenya, bureaucrats regularly expect bribes in return for pushing through anything from a driver’s license to a business permit. Police at traffic stops commonly shake down motorists for cash to overlook often-nonexistent infringements.
The government has made efforts in recent years to try to reign in the small-level corruption. Parking fees, for example, now are collected electronically so that workers cannot pocket the cash.
Mr. Kenyatta has been the subject of broader corruption and human rights concerns.
The International Criminal Court had charged him with commiting crimes aginst humanity for his alleged role in fomenting the violence that erupted after Kenya’s 2007 presidential election. Some 1,200 people were killed and 600,000 fled their homes because of ethnic fighting after that vote
The ICC withdrew the charges against Mr. Kenyatta in December, however, saying the Kenyan government had blocked the prosecutor from gathering enough evidence to proceed with the case.
Mr. Obama said part of the reason he has not visited Kenya before his sixth year in office was because of “deep concerns” over the violence that took place around the election.
He also quipped, when a Kenyan reporter asked him why he waited so long to visit: “I didn’t want people to think I was playing favorites.”