“With the challenge of unemployment facing our country, Kenya requires special concerted efforts that involve a multi-sectoral approach in order to offer practical solutions”, said the Kenyan Minister for Trade, Chirau Ali Mwakwere.
The minister was speaking during the launch of Chandaria Business Innovation and Incubation Centre (C-BIIC) at Kenyatta University (KU). He commended the university for opting to be at the forefront in pioneering a practical strategy for job creation.
Mwakwere said that he hopes the centre will transform the lives of the beneficiaries of the programme as well as spur socio-economic development in the country in line with the government’s Vision 2030.
“As a Ministry,” he said “we are therefore impressed that KU is leading the way in creating an environment that supports business innovations and the transfer of knowledge to society.”
He challenged other universities in the country to follow suit. “Universities should not only concentrate in academic pursuits but also create jobs through entrepreneurial activities and this is what Kenyatta University is doing,” Mwakwere said.
The minister urged other organizations to join KU in setting up the centre to accommodate more students and even other Kenyans. The purpose of the centre is to provide important entrepreneurial training to young people, who are the future of the country.
“As a region which is endowed with rich natural resources, we recognize the potential in pursuing sustainable development through various sectors using the unique advantage of entrepreneurship,” continued the upbeat minister, who was accompanied by Kenyan veteran entrepreneurs including Manu Chandaria who donated Sh 25 million as well as Chris Kirubi and Samuel Macharia of Royal Media Services, who denoted Sh 1 million each towards the establishment of the centre.
The minister added that there is a need to harness potential by exploring innovative ways to enhance competitiveness. This can be achieved through increased investment in infrastructure development, institutional collaboration, and greater market access.
He challenged those who use the CBIIC to do their best within the period of incubation to ensure that they develop strong companies whose top-notch products and services will easily penetrate not only the local market but also the regional and international markets.
KU, Vice Chancellor (VC), Prof Olive Mugenda said that the CBIIC is the product of a public private partnership. “Elsewhere in industrialized countries where new knowledge is rapidly transformed into commercialised products and services, it is known that this is as a result of the close partnership existing between universities and private sector organizations,” Prof Mugenda said.
She said such collaborations harness financial and material resources as well as skills that are abundant in a university setting.
The VC said that Kenyatta University feels privileged to partner with entrepreneurs, government agents and businesses, which are the engine for growth and job creation in the country. “Together, our efforts can make a significant contribution to the socio-economic development of this country, helping to bring progress and stability,” she articulated.
Professor Mugenda explained that the business incubation is a support process that accelerates the successful development of start-up and fledgling companies by providing entrepreneurs with an array of supportive resources and services.
“Technological progress and entrepreneurship are dramatically changing the global economic landscape,” she said, adding that “incubators nurture young firms, helping them to survive and grow during the start-up period when they are most vulnerable as well as providing hands-on management assistance, access to financing and planned exposure to critical business or technical support services.”
KU incubation program aims to produce successful graduates – businesses that are viable and stable when they leave the incubator, usually in about one year.
Nevertheless, effective business incubation is characterized by an aspiration from the incubator to have a positive impact by maximizing the success of emerging companies.
Additionally, the VC said the incubator itself is a dynamic model of a sustainable, efficient business operation. Incubator graduates have the potential to create jobs, revitalize neighborhoods, commercialize new technologies and strengthen local and national economies. Mentoring in incubation helps young businesses to gain experience from successful entrepreneurs.
The incubation will provide access to first-class business expertise; business consulting services when needed for specific problems; professional mentoring to help companies identify problems and develop solutions; and coaching on business presentations to potential customers, financiers and venture capital firms among others.
The C- BIIC aims at annually assisting about 50 young innovators/entrepreneurs towards a gradual and systematic growth of their ideas to maturity. A team of experts from within Kenyatta University and distinguished mentors outside the University will vet and select the proposals for incubation.
After an average of six months to one year incubation, the products and services of incubatees will be rolled into the market place. “The overall mission of C-BIIC is to provide encouragement and an enabling environment for innovative ideas to flourish and thereby spur national development as envisaged in Kenya Vision 2030,” Prof Mugenda said.
Once the construction of the Centre is complete, the number will go up to 100 incubatees at a time. The completion of the Centre in the next year will enable KU to extend the services offered by CBIIC to Kenyans outside the University Community. “KU is strongly committed towards enhancing creativity and self reliance,” the VC said.