Women and youth showcase business skills as forum starts

The Global Entrepreneurship Summit started on Friday, with youth and women showcasing their businesses and seeking ways to improve them.

At least 150 established entrepreneurs gathered at the United Nations offices in Nairobi to share their success stories.

The groups took part in a pitch competition and they were taught new skills.

Speakers included American R&B and hip hop star Akon, world renowned chef Jose Andres, Fubu owner and founder Daymond John and Kiva Executive Chair Julie Hanna. Kiva is a microfinance firm.

US Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel and Kenya’s Foreign Affairs and International Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed made the opening remarks.

Ms Mohammed said the summit is an opportunity to share ideas.

“Today is not only about bottomlines for investors and businesses. It is also about better lives for individuals and societies,” she said.

PROCUREMENT

Ms Mohammed said 30 per cent of public procurement in government goes to youth and women’s businesses.

“The government has support structures for women and the youth. There are not enough, but we plan to do more to support start-ups,” she said.

During the first day of the summit, participants were trained on scaling up domestic businesses, regional and global value chains.

They were also taught branding and marketing, building culture by breaking barriers and encouraging innovative thinking in companies and communities.

Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Opic, a US development finance institution signed a mandate letter to begin discussions with a local firm, Mawingu Networks. The firm provides solar powered wireless internet in rural Kenya.

Opic President and Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Littlefield signed the mandate alongside Microsoft Head of Legal and Corporate Affairs for the Middle East and Africa Anthony Cook.

Mawingu managers were, however, not at the function because they did not have accreditation to attend the summit.

The company provides internet connectivity in rural areas where people face financial constraints.

Mawingu and Opic have signed a Sh400 million deal for infrastructure sourcing.

Another highlight during the first day of the summit was the pitch competition where 30 youth and women from around the world battled in a bid to win the Sh3 million cash prize.