Young entrepreneurs in Kenya are set to benefit from an intensive training programme that will see them horn their entrepreneurship skills, thanks to the African Finance Forum (AFIF) that kicked off today at the Strathmore Business School.
This programme comes at the time when Kenya is banking on SME sector to fuel its straggling economy bogged by poor production in agriculture, manufacturing and service sector last year
Unemployment rate in Kenya is currently at 40 per cent with 80 per cent of youth aged below 35 years being the majority.
The programme which is in its 11th edition is being hosted in Kenya for the first time and includes training in three key entrepreneurship areas before culminating into an award gala on 15th at the Carnivore Restaurant.
According to AFIF Manager, Inês Bastos, the forum provides a huge opportunity to entrepreneurs to engage with prospective investors for funding and business ment0rship and tips.
“Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the creators of the middle class in Africa, but access to finance remains a hurdle for entrepreneurs in the region,” he explained. “
‘’To strengthen the private sector in Africa, AFIF offers a platform to promote new business partnerships between entrepreneurs and investors which will contribute to a sustainable development in Africa”.
This year, The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will participate in the training for the first time, widening the investors scoop and knowledge bank for the programme.
JICA will present a concept aimed at applying best practices of Japanese management excellence – the Kaizen method – in some pilot companies in Kenya.
“Kaizen” is the Japanese word for “improvement” and is defined as the methodology to advance all processes and systems of an enterprise. This exercise could have a big impact on the quality of SME’s corporate planning and work productivity.
According to Ms. Keiko Sano, Chief Representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Kenya Office, KAIZEN is one of JICA’s cooperation menus for private sector development that focuses on human resource development.
‘’It is Japan’s firm belief that human resource development is key to development as it has been for Japan. In this context, JICA continues to support the human resource development in the SMEs and private sector in Africa through KAIZEN related projects in more than 30 countries across the world.
On her part, Ms. Idit Miller, EMRC VP & Managing Director expressed her delight for bringing the Japanese management excellence closer to African entrepreneurs through the partnership with JICA.
‘’EMRC aims to strengthen the private sector in Africa and we believe that the Kaizen method can have a big impact in Kenya and beyond. I invite all SMEs to join us in Nairobi”.
This Pan-African meeting of SMEs managers, entrepreneurs, investors and government representatives will focus on entrepreneurship and innovation and access to finance in key sectors such as energy, water, health and agriculture.
Today, the forum tackled a topic on how to scale entrepreneurship venture. Other key sessions includes a B2B pre-arranged business meeting between investors and entrepreneurs.
On the last day, at least six African SMEs which were nominated for AFIF Entrepreneurship Award 2017, supported by the Rabobank