By Grace Atuhaire and Kenneth Jura
So Obama has been in town not for an official visit to the Republic of Kenya but to officiate the Global Entrepreneurship Summit and all the media’s attention was on the expectations of his step grandmother to her grandson’s visit to the country and Kenyans on Twitter taking on CNN about the dictionary words with #SomeonetellCNN but where are the Kenyan young entrepreneurs?
The Government of Kenya hosted a Pre-Global Entrepreneurship summit at KICC grounds showcasing different Micro enterprises. We saw His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta taking walks from one stall to the other smiling at the cameras and smiling with some of the young people showcasing their work and wondered who is really benefiting from this Global Entrepreneurs Summit?
We know we have been told to be optimistic about everything and love Kenya for the future by embracing futuristic ideologies and yet many are destined to be disappointed. Pretend to think with me for a second, how is this Global Entrepreneurship Summit going to benefit Micro enterprises? Tenders: Yes this summit and pre-event of course comes with logistics and young people could have benefited from this item but we all know how corrupt and tribal this process can be.
Kidero, the governor of Nairobi, too couldn’t manage to grow grass in a few weeks and we even saw some flower pots lined up along Kenyatta Avenue all the way to State House Avenue so someone benefited and if it’s you congratulations if not, too bad and let’s move on we are always reminded .
With Obama in town, it has been great seeing renowned investors too, the likes of Richard Branson, founder of Virgin group, Econet founder Strive Masiyiwa and the list can go on and on but who did they meet?
We are so engrossed in a psycho fancy of what this could be for Kenya but we forget that it’s our own country’s policies that make the Micro enterprises die a natural death or succeed so why do we expect some foreigners to be our miracle when every day we can’t even clean our own behind? (Excuse the excitement) They will definitely meet the big manufacturers because they need to make more profits but not the people that we are all branding to support.
Kenya’s population is growing by about 1 million persons each year, and the high population growth rate of the past results in today’s youth bulge according to (UNDP).
Young people (aged between 18 and 35 years old) constitute more than half of the entire population. This represents great economic and social opportunities, but also enormous challenges
The challenges of today’s youth are still related to: Employment, Participation & Engagement, Health, Education and Training, Crime and Drugs, Housing, Environment, Information and communication, Special needs, access to financial resources and with many step forward, a lucky few are selected at random and make their way inside, then the doors of the building close and they stay wondering when their turn will be – hopes dashed yet again
Kenya’s government needs to create more than 3.9 million jobs for young people by 2020 according to study by SAP SE, a global non-profit organization. So is the Global Entrepreneurship summit (hope to hear a lot of success stories) a small drop in the ocean or does it represent the many drops to come?
What lies at the heart of the upscale of Micro enterprises in a sustainable entrepreneur ecosystem is the government’s policies and the rest patch it up.
The Kenyan government has tried with introduction of Youth Enterprise Fund but its tangible yield remains far from the ideal. The access to this fund is full of bottle necks that many opt out of any government support. A group of a minimum 10 members of the youth has to be formed and if you are lucky enough end up getting a paltry 100,000.
Less than two years ago the government came up with policies of helping the youth access government tenders commonly known as Youth Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (YAGPO). This a great idea and many have fulfilled all the requirements however, corruption and nepotism has negated all the good intentions the government had in aiding the youth. In fact the only thing that has come from the government is a certificate indicating that we qualify as youth entrepreneur or is it tenderpreneur?
There is a constant mismatch between policy pronouncement and resource-financial allocations, financial and human capital as brought about by poor implementation of these policies. Has the GES Summit highlighted this practical challenges affecting youth entrenchment in businesses? Has the government found inspiration from President Obama’s speeches and decide to rethink how to ensure youth and women are incorporated in all sectors and provided for opportunities to shine as they merit?
Kenyans have been and still are very enthusiastic after hearing Obama’s speeches but are they gullible to imagine he delivered the magic bullet to end their misery? Only time is the teller.