What next after GES? AmCham President & Vice President speak to People Daily

A challenge glares at Kenya after the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), with questions on whether the country is ready to sustain the momentum after the event.

According to Geoffrey Injeni, a Finance and Accounting lecturer at the Strathmore Business School, there ought to be clear investment structures beyond the event to ensure that it creates the needed impact of boosting local entrepreneurs. Injeni says that would only be achieved by ensuring a secure environment, good monetary policies (especially on inflation and exchange rates) and an efficient fiscal policy that should have tax incentives to promote businesses.

“Generally such forums are good to share ideas, but at the end there has to be commitment to some of the ideas and suggestions,” he added. 

According to Reece Jenkins, partner at Ernst and Young and vice-president of the American Chamber of Commerce, the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2015 will raise Kenya’s profile and awareness of the robust presence of US companies already operating in Kenya, and the contribution they are making to the East African economy as well as skilled job growth in the region.

Among US President Barack Obama’s delegation to the GES were 200 top American investors, who he brought along to explore investment opportunities in the local market as well as provide capital and expertise to the innovators participating at the summit. “We’re connecting you with the world’s top business leaders and innovators.

"We hand-picked more than 200 seasoned investors and entrepreneurs and brought them to this summit. I’ve even brought a few of my presidential ambassadors for entrepreneurship,” said Obama. “These are some of America’s leading innovators and entrepreneurs. Pin them down. Get their advice. Pitch them your idea. That’s why they’re here.” He said last year’s GES had set a goal of raising $1 billion (Sh100 billion) in new investment for emerging entrepreneurs around the world, a target which had already been surpassed. “We’ve secured more than $1 billion in new commitments from banks, foundations, philanthropists… all to support entrepreneurs like you,” he added. About half of the funds will go to women and youth entrepreneurs.

Optiven chief executive George Wachiuri says this is the time for Kenya to showcase her entrepreneurship spirit. “We have a chance to plug in on the big investments that will come on board. Some of these big boys want to put money in mass transport, oil and gas,” he said. On whether the summit posed a bigger challenge to Kenyan investors by putting them alongside their powerful global counterparts, Wachiuri said: “We as Kenyan entrepreneurs fit in very well on value addition within the supply chain.It is also a call for Kenyan entrepreneurs to come together to plug in to supply the big projects such as Lapsset and Standard Gauge Railway.” Wachiuri says Kenya expects a big boost on the entrepreneurship culture, better Kenya-America relationship which will boost trade investments for the country and more Kenyans in Diaspora investing back home.

Coca-Cola general manager Peter Njonjo says the presence of the President of the United States went a long way in starting a new, positive and optimistic narrative on Kenya that has been dogged by many negative and unfortunate events recently. “The GES being held in Kenya gave entrepreneurs exposure to international venture capital investors. This will go a long way in contributing to a vibrant start-up ecosystem that will create lots of opportunities for young Kenyans,” said Njonjo. Mr. Njonjo, who is also the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Kenya, expressed optimism that the summit will strengthen Kenya-US bilateral ties.

Source: People Daily