Kenya: We Must Unlock Our Potential in Entrepreneurship to Create Jobs

Most, if not all economic analysts, agree that entrepreneurship holds the key to the creation of jobs and improvement of livelihoods.

As a country therefore, we must begin to think seriously on how to nurture an entrepreneurship culture, moreso given the biting unemployment that we are faced with.

What is undeniable is that Kenyans, especially young people, are full of brilliant ideas that could grow into big businesses if afforded a conducive environment. The challenge is how we can entrench such a favourable atmosphere that can help build these ideas into successful enterprises.

Lack of capital is often cited as a major setback, and indeed it is. Potential entrepreneurs still find it hard to access funding as successive World Bank reports show. Even established firms find it difficult to obtain finances to scale up operations.

This is an issue that needs to be critically addressed if we are to see more young people actualise their dreams.

The prospects, however, look promising with the government and financial institutions having created special funds for young people and SMEs.

These include the Youth Enterprise Fund as well as Barclays’ Wezesha Biashara and Tujiajiri by Kenya Commercial Bank.

There is, therefore, need to create awareness among the youth on the existence of these funds. It is also important that these funds be disbursed ingeniously so that serious and passionate entrepreneurs can access them.

Besides capital, another big challenge facing young people looking to join the world of business is in how they draw the ultimate goal that they seek to achieve.

There is a lot more to business than just money, the profit motive notwithstanding. But if you are obsessed with just the financial side of it, chances of failing will be pretty high.

Look at your idea from the perspective of what the society needs. People will pay for a service and product they need; they will not buy it to make you rich. If your idea will help address their needs, then you are in business.

SHARPEN BUSINESS IDEAS

Until you have figured out a proper end game right at the start, cents will not make much sense in the long run.

To help sharpen business ideas, we ought to establish support systems. We could come up with enterprise academies where potential and upcoming entrepreneurs can get first-hand interaction with those who started small and are now giants in multiple sectors of the economy.

Another lesson learnt is that successful entrepreneurs are self-made. They are equipped with a compelling conviction and an idea they believe in.

This is very crucial as the business road is sometimes rough and slippery and is not for the faint-hearted. Passion, focus and resilience will take you through the myriad rough patches.

Business guru Harland Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken or KFC as the franchise is popularly known, suffered innumerable setbacks, but he never gave up.

He lost his father when he was a boy and the mother could not send him to school. He began doing menial jobs before he started selling chicken.

He later rented a premise from where he operated. A fierce fire would later raze down his business. He rebuilt it. A bypass constructed by the state later took away traffic from the side of his restaurant.

He had to sell the building he had built remaining with $105 (S0,500) after paying his debts. He resorted to hawking chicken before regaining his foothold. Today, KFC has over 11,000 branches across the globe. Such is the resilience that entrepreneurs must be equipped with.

Acquisition of knowledge is also another crucial element of entrepreneurship. Schools, colleges and universities may impart entrepreneurial skills but that is just the beginning.

As an entrepreneur, you need to do more. You need to research more and read widely. Never cease to acquire knowledge.

Even when your venture is doing well, reading makes you alert to new opportunities and keep abreast with the ever shifting technology.

I have learnt through experience that in business, if you fail to innovate, you are preparing to fail.

Source: The Nation.