Big brother asked for our suggestions to the Kenya national budget as a way of ensuring there is public participation in the budgetary process for the financial year 2017/2018. Not very many people got to see the call for tips and suggestions; but thanks to a friend of mine, I got the wind and went ahead to exercise my democratic right as a citizen of this beloved country of ours, we call Kenya.
Coming from an entrepreneurship background, I figured out I should share my two cents on what needs to be done within the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Kenya. The major challenge quoted by most entrepreneurs is lack of capital. However, even with the capital provided by Uwezo fund and the Youth Fund, not much has been achieved due to the short-termism nature of the projects funded. The other short-coming of the current funding model for youth entrepreneurship is lack of requisite skills to start and run a sustainable and scalable business. The young brilliant entrepreneurial brains in Kenya need to be trained and be equipped with business skills before they are funded.
In a nutshell, this is what I proposed as a way to create job opportunities and stimulate economic growth and development in Kenya:
“We need to allocate a significant budget to support youth entrepreneurship through collaboration with the private sector and international development partners in building capacity for the youths to start and run their own businesses. First get the youths trained on entrepreneurship and then fund their business ideas/existing ventures based on thorough vetting by qualified financial/investment analysts working within the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Kenya.
A perfect model would be the government to be a guarantor to early stage business investors (especially local venture capitalists, private equity firms etc) who then select the businesses to invest in based on the sustainability, scalability and the social impact the business will have in our economy. That way we shall have more success stories of youth entrepreneurship contributing to job creation and to national economic development. This is as a result of the investors having an in-depth consideration of commercial viability of the projects to be funded; as compared to the government that might be inclined more into the social benefits. Having a balance between social and economic gains ensures that only scalable businesses thrive hence creating employment to large number of Kenyans over time.
In summary, let the government set aside a significant budget for the “Start-up Fund Kenya” to finance youth entrepreneurship in every county within the country. However, instead of the government investing directly in the start-ups and SMEs, let the “Start-up Fund Kenya” be used to provide a guarantee to local investors (venture capitalists, angel investors, private equity firms etc), who will then invest directly in the start-ups with a business and growth mindset from the beginning.”