The event lived up to its billing of sharing knowledge and experiences to young people. The Great Talks 2015 hosted by UAP-Old Mutual Group came at an opportune time when the country is facing high unemployment rate while the jubilee government is encouraging young people to embrace entrepreneurship to create jobs for themselves and others.
It was there an icing in the cake for the over 2000 participants, a sold out, free event, who thronged the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) to listen and be challenged by industry experts. The speakers were policy makers, government leaders, financial experts, investment groups, private sector business leaders and Old Mutual Staff.
This Great Talks being the second year it is being organized offered a good platform for the launching pad for the integrated business. There was an opportunity to reflect the past, whether some gains have been made or otherwise.
From a structural perspectives, the government’s initiative to legislate on business related catalysts was lauded. For instance, the Insolvency Act provides businesses with a three year window and a robust mechanism to sort out their financial status before they can be declared insolvent. Before this law, it was easier for a company to be declared insolvent by a court of law, a provision that allowed competitors to fight off competition, cunningly.
James Wambugu Group Managing Director General Insurance at UAP was emphatic that having a passion in something is core to building on it as a business.
“To increase the success of your business, invest in an area you are interested.”
In many cases, young people want to see immediate returns in ventures they engage in. This leads to frustrations, mostly leading to failure in many start-ups. It is estimated that three quarters of start-ups fail before reaching year three. The solution to this was shared by 26 year old entrepreneur, the Founder of Weza Tele Limited Hilda Moraa
“Don’t chase the money, chase the bigger picture and be prepared for failures..”
Weza Tele provides mobile solutions in supply chain, commerce and distribution through integration of the same with mobile payments. The solutions are provided on Web, USSD and SMS. The company has so far provided solutions in Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Nigeria. In April this year, the company was acquired by AFB at a cost of sh154 Million, ($1.7 million) shading light into how pivotal Hilda has built her company to excite global interest.
Hilda further challenged the participants not to expect success in one day. She said that it is not an overnight thing. Young people need to work hard, believe in yourself against all odds.
Kenya Deputy President William Ruto who was a key guest asserted that starting a business is the first step. This start should be small so that you can build on it into something big, greater than even your imagination. He added
We are creating an environment that gives opportunity to people with new ideas to create opportunities and generate wealth.
Ruto was also emphatic that the emphasis on formal education through higher education is not the only way to success. He urged parents to embrace the talents that their children have and take them to technical institutions to better horn those skills and enable them succeed in life.
South African Venture capitalist and motivational speaker Vusi Thembekwayo did not disappoint with his remarks on what it takes to stand out. He for instance encouraged participants to be great at one things not many. This helps them to better focus on it and be the best. This is what assures them of success, not wanting to be everywhere.
Some of the quotes he inspired the participants were;
No where else in Africa would you see the spirit of entrepreneurship more vibrant than here in Kenya.
Entrepreneurship is not running a business, rather it’s a system of thinking.
As Africans we should celebrate ourselves and share our stories.
The world in our stage, don’t just think of that small corner.
Always challenge the conventional wisdom. Sometimes the wisdom that exists isn’t always the best wisdom out there.
Challenge is not being the first but the best.
To do new things , you have to challenge existing knowledge.
Business plan is a thinking tool.
Other guests who graced the event include Danson Muchemi the CEO Jambo Pay, JoyceAnne Wainaina the East Africa CEO of Citibank, Suzie Wokabi a make up brand entrepreneur, Suzie Beauty line is Kenya’s first makeup brand that is a product for the African woman, created by an African woman and Akinyi Adongo the CEO of Mefa Arts Centre and the owner of Akinyi Odongo Kenya, a high fashion brand. She also dresses First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.
Great Talks 2015 was certainly the place to be. It was the forum to reflect on business and entrepreneurship especially for young people. It was also a great networking forum, which can be handy in mentoring young entrepreneurs.