The African Entrepreneur in 2050: Perspectives & Scenarios (Part 1)


Why 2050?

Sustainable development goals set out a clear development agenda for the world for the next 15 years until 2030. Discussing the future in 2050, which is about three and half decades away might therefore seem to be farfetched. Personally I have lived on this earth for less than three decades since I was born, and a lot have happened in my life; tremendous changes – most of which were random and unexpected. It therefore beats logic to plan for so many years ahead when the only certain thing in the future is its uncertainty.

This however does not negate the need to plan. As it is commonly known, failing to plan is planning to fail. The case for entrepreneurship in Africa is no exception in this planning agenda; hence we are allowed to immerse ourselves into the deep faculties of our creative imaginations and paint the picture of the future of entrepreneurship in Africa. Our outcome picture of the future will definitely be based on all possible scenarios of the future, that will be catalyzed by current and projected social, economic & political trends across the continent. Continue reading “The African Entrepreneur in 2050: Perspectives & Scenarios (Part 1)”


Eating is an agricultural act

Scholars argue that for afields_height_agriculture_mountains_42462_300x188ny society to experience sustainable economic development and civilization, it must first be able to feed its people. T
o meet the food demand by 2050, 70% increase in worldwide food production is required; hence SDG 2 calls for an urgent intervention from all stakeholders to provide food security for future generations.

However, Kenya faces a huge challenge of feeding its citizens in the future due to aging farmers with a growing population; projected to be 65.4 million people by 2030. The challenge is augmented across Africa with the continent importing food worth $45 billion in 2015; yet we have 60% of the uncultivated arable land globally.

To feed the future, we need to engage Kenyan youths today in agribusiness so as to capitalize on their bulging demographics and consumerism, reduce their current 17.3% unemployment rate and eventually turn them into a demographic dividend for Africa. Youths venturing into agribusiness however face several challenges including small parcels of land, land ownership and inheritance issues especially for the ladies and lack of access to capital, agricultural knowledge and markets.

Solutions to the challenges above lie at the confluence of technology and our local cultural land inheritance systems. Equipped with agri-technologies such as drip irrigation, micro-mechanization, biological pest control and shade netting, youths should use the contract farming model to lease idle land from owners and have the owners buy the produce for value addition and marketing. Alternatively, under the joint venture model, youths can contribute technology and labor while the land owners provide the resources needed; then later have a revenue share. Forming regional small-holder out-grower networks will also help the youths to acquire quality farm inputs and trainings at affordable prices.

Moving up the value chain, youths should consider being retailers and wholesalers both online and offline, provide logistics & warehousing services and adopt micro-manufacturing using locally available equipment & technology in order to fetch higher returns from their agribusinesses.

To finance the above opportunities, youths need to consider a mix of funding sources including use of grant & government funding for new ventures, then transition to mainstream financing from SACCOs, MFIs and banks after creating tangible traction. Youths in farming should consider joint-ventures with land owners while those in high-return agri-processing should tap into venture capital too.

Collective selling will enhance access to local markets and help youths lobby authorities to streamline export processes in order to expose the small-holder farmers to global markets. Youth farmer groups should also lobby the government to develop policy frameworks that facilitate easy access to farm inputs & extension services, develop model-farms in sub-counties for agricultural training, develop infrastructure for ease of market access, as well as create tax and other regulatory benefits for youths in agribusiness along the whole value chain.

When all is said and done, “The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.” – Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution.

Is “Start-Up Fund KE” a cool idea?

download (1)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.”

Choosing a Strategic Business Partner for your Start-Up

imagesIn the past week alone I have had two start-up founders come to me seeking advice on how to get the right strategic partner for their promising enterprises. Everyone wants to be part of a success story and when you the founder have put together a scalable business plan; there will be many suitors who want to make hay while the sun shines before it is too late to get in. Alternatively, you might have grown your business to a level whereby the daily operations are overwhelming; hence you want to bring in a business partner to whom you will delegate some of the tactical responsibilities as you focus on curving out the strategic vision of your start-up. Continue reading “Choosing a Strategic Business Partner for your Start-Up”

Unveiling Trumpenomics: The New World Economic Order

708193Hate him or love him, the 45th president of the United States of America is here with us and he has a gift for everyone. For his supporters and those who love him, you are all “terrific!” and “fantastic!” The rest wait for his “tremendous” tweets coming live and direct through @realDonaldTrump to know where you belong.

Nevertheless, regardless of which side of the divide you fall you will all be served with the same economic policy changes from the man in the Oval Office; at least for the next 4 years.

Continue reading “Unveiling Trumpenomics: The New World Economic Order”

Path To Civilization: The Industrial Revolution Simplified

1800s-steam-traction-engine-tractor-abComing immediately after the Agricultural Revolution, the Industrial Revolution was characterized by mechanization of production processes, use of new sources of energy and rapid urbanization. The Agricultural Revolution led to increased food production which lowered the cost of food and shifted the focus of communities into demanding other goods and services that could improve their livelihoods. This led to the invention of mechanical equipment to facilitate mass production of goods and services in order to satisfy the growing demand; and hence the birth of the Industrial Revolution. Continue reading “Path To Civilization: The Industrial Revolution Simplified”

Path To Civilization: The Agricultural Revolution Simplified

From Foraging to Domestication

ag-rev-2A trip down history lane reveals that all humanity was once engaged in similar activities of hunting and gathering. Yes, some many years ago depending on which history book you read, we were all hunters and gathers doing what is commonly referred to as foraging. However, due to climatic changes and need for more food for the growing population, human beings started domesticating some plants and animals in order to meet their food requirements. Continue reading “Path To Civilization: The Agricultural Revolution Simplified”