A business programme to equip East Africa university graduates with entrepreneurial development skills before they enter the job market has been launched.
Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) in partnership with McKinney Rogers Foundation launched the one week Business Challenge programme involving eight scholars from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda who travel to Kenya to participate in the challenge at Strathmore University.
KCB has identified a challenge that will be given to the students who will then come up with a solution within four days to be presented to the KCB executive board on Friday, 3rd June 2011.
The solution will be implemented by KCB where three top performing scholars will be awarded with an internship to implement the proposed solution which will lead to permanent employment.
“The challenge will develop the scholars’ mindsets in addressing real type macro environment issues facing real organizations such as KCB,” said Chris Stephenson, Partner McKinney Rogers, adding that the Foundation is setting out to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and culture in East Africa.
Stephenson who was speaking at Strathmore University during the launch of the Business Challenge week said the foundation has been sponsoring two students every year from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania through their university education since 2007 who have achieved straight A’s at O’level, are from disadvantaged backgrounds and who have outstanding character.
KCB looks forward to the participants being equipped with some pre-requisite business and leadership skills that will prepare them to venture into the highly competitive job market, said the KCB Divisional Director, Strategy, Research and Innovations, Dr Robert Ochola.
Dr. Ochola articulated that the bank is committed to looking through the proposals of the students and where possible implementing them as they continue innovating and illuminating the regional financial services.
“At KCB, we realize that most of the emerging Africa faces a huge unemployment burden. This is even more pronounced in our own country Kenya where the youth account for 75 percent of the population,” he said “Unfortunately despite being well educated and skilled many young people find themselves alienated from the economy as unemployed labor.”
Further, he pointed out small and medium enterprises which make up to 75 percent of the Kenya’s working population contribute 25 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP). While in Thailand they make about 40 percent of the working force while contributing 40 percent to the GDP.
The strategy, research and innovations director attributed this to poor quality products, lack of financial access and lack of business management knowledge.
Thus the bank has committed Sh 27 million through the Enterprise Development pillar of the KCB Foundation to develop and expand enterprises through training and capacity building while also mentoring entrepreneurs in sustainable business models.
KCB is running the Acumen Fund East Africa Fellows programme which draws participants from East Africa with the aim of expanding their social initiatives and sharpen their leadership skills. They have identified top 20 social entrepreneurs in the region for the July programme.
Additionally, the bank is training youth groups around the country to establish micro – enterprises alongside sponsoring financial literacy and management courses through the Nurture Smart initiative.
Strathmore University, dean of the school of business, Paul Ochieng, said the university is looking forward to becoming an entrepreneurship incubation centre as it is hosting the KCB and McKinney Rogers Foundation partnership as well as Samsung technology and innovation park.
A part from hosting the Business Challenge the university will officially launch a business incubation in October this year. To nurture and graduate entrepreneurs, he said. The university reviews its curriculum after every three years to to be in resonance with the dynamic market needs.