NAIROBI, KENYA, FEB 16 — The Aga Khan University (AKU) and the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) have jointly launched the Scale programme in Kenya, aimed at supporting youth entrepreneurship in the country and the East Africa region.
Through the East Africa Civil Society Initiative (CSI), the agencies will host the Scale Kenya forum in Nairobi next week, seeking to drive innovation among the youth and stakeholders.
The programme aims at supporting youth entrepreneurship, which will help address the high rate of unemployment in the region.
Under the theme ‘Youth Entrepreneurship for Social Impact’, the event to be held at the iHub in Nairobi on Thursday, February 22, will bring together over 100 entrepreneurs and 25 exhibitors.
The Scale programme launched in May 2017 in Uganda, and took place in Tanzania in September 2017 will be the first in Kenya.
Five inspiring young Kenyan entrepreneurs have been selected to speak at the event. They represent Nairobi, Lamu, Kisumu, Kisii and Eldoret.
According to the Aga Khan Foundation East Africa, young entrepreneurs have the potential to be a powerful vehicle for Kenya’s sustainable economic growth, and the driving force behind a number of creative solutions to broader socio-economic development challenges.
The forum will be used to address challenges faced by youth entrepreneurs in the country.
“Some of the biggest challenges young entrepreneurs across East Africa face include lack of access to finance, appropriate training and mentorship to help grow their businesses,” Safia Abji, Start-Up Advisor at Aga Khan Foundation East Africa said.
Policy and regulatory issues are also seen to create obstacles that make it more difficult for local businesses to survive and thrive.
“The Scale programme aims to understand these challenges, and determine how stakeholders can work individually and together more effectively to strengthen the enabling environment for entrepreneurs in East Africa,” Abji said.
In 2016, the East Africa Institute of the Aga Khan University produced some of the most authoritative research on youth values, attitudes, concerns and aspirations in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda.
The study identified unemployment as the single most pressing issue affecting youth, who form 80 per cent of the population.
Kenya’s unemployment was at 39.1 per cent last year according to the United Nations; Human Development Index (HDI) 2017, the highest in East Africa.
“The Scale programme aims to facilitate meaningful dialogue and collaboration to support youth entrepreneurship, and therefore create employment in the region,” CSI said in a statement.
Among key speakers lined up for the event include Tri.B Managing Director Gacheri Maingi, Maliha Mohamed, the director of Al-Maawy Boutique in Lamu and Brian Bosire ,the founder of the award-winning HydroIQ.
The forum will feature interactive discussions addressing the opportunities and barriers to Kenya’s entrepreneurial market, including policy responses and the roles of public and private sector in supporting the enabling environment for Kenyan entrepreneurs.