By Ian Lorenzen, Executive Director & Partner at GrowthAfrica
The development of start-ups and scaling of same into impactful ventures which can deliver much needed jobs especially among youth is key to social and economic progress and growth of Africa. The talent and entrepreneurial drive is everywhere. With the right guidance and support, one of the strongest fuels for the societal growth engine is right in front of us.
With the significant role that agriculture plays in the Kenyan economy and society at large, it is exciting to have the opportunity to contribute to the unlocking of the entrepreneurial potential with Egerton University, East Africa’s leading agricultural university. Institutions of higher learning are through incubation activities key in developing the pipeline that ultimately will contribute to the next generation of large(r) African businesses.
Traditionally incubation of start-ups focused on IT and mobile and now the broader application of IT as a tool to improve business performance. Currently there are about 7 incubation spaces in Kenya, 1 maker space, 2 accelerators and several acceleration programmes plus a growing number of co-working spaces. With a few exceptions, the activities are centred in Nairobi and the incubation space outside Nakuru is therefore a welcomed and much needed resource. Kenya is undoubtedly the most resourceful country in terms of organisations supporting entrepreneurs. Yet there is still a lot that needs to be done to turn out scalable and investment ready businesses.
GrowthAfrica’s project involvement is focused on supporting the centre develops into an internationally minded agribusiness incubator for young graduates and innovative entrepreneurs. The incubator will emphasize the livestock value chain. Through the centre the university is to establish and strengthen its network and linkages with local businesses and key stakeholders aimed at enhancing the relevance of its graduates and services.
Furthermore, the centre will in synergy with its incubation services develop and deliver consultancy services relevant to local agri-businesses. The university will on its side create courses and programmes including entrepreneurship, innovation and inclusive business practices.
Ultimately the efforts will prepare Egerton University for partnerships with incubators and innovative companies in the Netherlands and Europe.
GrowthAfrica has worked with SMEs and entrepreneurs since its founding in 2002. Since 2012, it has focused on developing and delivering acceleration programmes of which it delivered 12 in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia, graduating so far 128 ventures. The programmes are industry agnostic and agribusiness is the single largest sector with about 20% of the portfolio – followed by IT and mobile, accounting for about 17%. GrowthAfrica is the local project partner and project manager in the project and brings with it its significant experience in working with East African entrepreneurs as well as facilitation of B2B partnerships between Kenyan and international companies.