Three Kenyans vie for Entrepreneur of the Year award

Three Kenyans will be fighting it out for the honour to represent the region in this year’s global Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) awards hosted by audit firm Ernst and Young.

Kimani Rugendo, the founder of juice processor Kevian Kenya, Bharat Thakrar of WPP Scan Group and Mayur Shah of Kenafric Industries have been selected as finalists for the regional chapter of the awards in the Master category.

The winners of this category will be announced at a gala event in December and later proceed to Monte Carlo in June to compete with more than 50 other winners for the global title.

“These individuals’ ability to hold on persistently to the vision of their business, have a hard work ethic, innovate, inspire others and power a business along the difficult journey from start-up to sustainable businesses is truly remarkable,” said Gitahi Gachahi, EY Eastern Africa managing artner.

Previous winners from Africa include Equity Bank’s chief executive officer James Mwangi, who took the 2012 global title. Last year’s regional winner was Mount Kenya University founder and chairman Simon Gicharu but he failed to clinch the global award.

Three Kenyans have also been shortlisted in the Emerging category.

They are Thakarashi Patel of Njoro Canning and Sailesh and Mehul Savani of Compulynx Limited. The third finalist firm in this category is Ntake Bakery from Uganda, which is owned and run by Gaster Lule.

For the Master category, a nominee must be the founder of a successful enterprise that is not less than five years old. In the Emerging category, a nominee must be the owner of the business and primarily responsible for the recent performance of the company, which must be at least two to three years old.

The award programme focus is to encourage entrepreneurship to promote economies as well as recognise individuals’ contribution to the society. The participants must also exhibit innovation, financial performance and strategic leadership in their line of business and their enterprises must have a positive impact to the society.

This year’s nominees have been drawn from communication and aertising, consumer and retail, IT and agriculture.

“As these entrepreneurs continue to power our economy, a stronger emphasis must also shift towards encouraging youth to venture into entrepreneurship,” said Mr Gachahi.

“Nurturing their skills and providing a favourable entrepreneurial environment is one of the best ways to deal with the high youth unemployment rate.”