GES Summit Ushers in Kenya 3.0

There is so much to learn and reflect on from the last three days of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2015. However, I will limit myself and my word count to the ones that I am carrying with me. The ones that resonated deeply.

I’ll start off with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s remarks at the opening ceremony. “We will not be bullied into paying allegiance to old trade and diplomatic ties unless they are for the benefit of his country. We cannot afford the luxury of the old language of East versus West. Kenya is aligned to neither. We are firmly and irreversibly aligned to progress”. Yes! Progress!

I cheered and I tweeted that! And even as I typed as fast as my fingers could allow me, he went on to embed that mantra of progress beautifully:

“This country, this continent does not claim perfection, but we can claim progress.” There it is again – progress. My rallying call as we start this week and definitely a new chapter in the story of this amazing country. Let’s claim progress.

In the pre-GES sessions I was able to attend and the sessions I moderated and those I followed on digital media, I have learnt a few things.

From Vital Voices: Women hold up half the sky. No country will prosper if they ignore the potential of half of their population. However we must claim progress as women. Enough with the talk-shops, it’s time to “do”. We must apply for the board positions we seek. We must demand and ask about the financial incentives that we have been promised. We must act. We must claim progress. The world is aware, the world is willing and we are equal to the task. All we have to do is claim progress.

Problems equals opportunities. Entrepreneurs can see opportunity in a problem. There isn’t a session where we didn’t come away aware that a lot of the entrepreneurs who do well are those who seek to find solutions to the things that bedevil us, whether economically or socially. Just using a very local example of M-Pesa, a simple problem like money transfer and making business easier, faster across the miles was solved by an app that today most of us can’t live without. Big lesson, no matter what the problem is, if you see it as an opportunity, progress will be made. If we sit down and talk about it, complain and whine, things will remain the same. We must be aligned to progress.

Incidentally, right along with problems and opportunities is the fact that entrepreneurs one and all, from Chris Kirubi to Manu Chandaria to Mark Cuban and Mark Elliot Zuckerberg – innovators aren’t born, they’re made. The inspiration to innovate is ignited by accepting challenges and start solving problems.

Entrepreneurs, leaders, soldiers, creatives – successful ones anyway – have one thing in common and have for thousands of years. They aren’t held back. The stuff that holds other people back, whether it’s personal pain, disabilities, lack of resources, tough situations, actually propels them forward. Once again I echo our President – we must claim progress.

Africa equals Kenya today more than ever. We are the world’s newest and most promising frontier of limitless opportunity. The speeches are over. The twitter activity will die down, the studios will take on their regular backdrops and the roads will be open once again to chaotic traffic. But as we go forth into this new day, this place I like to call Kenya 3.0, let’s get on with the job of building our dreams, our passions and our future. We must align with progress starting now.