There is so much energy and potential here …
… I just want to walk around and meet folks”, exclaimed Facebook-founder Mark Zuckerberg shortly after his arrival in Africa. Mark Zuckerberg visited Nairobi to meet with entrepreneurs and developers and to learn more about mobile money. Kenya is the world leader in this sector.The start-up and entrepreurial environment is blossoming in the Kenyan capital like in no other place in sub-saharan Africa. Global tech-players like Google, Intel, Nokia and Microsoft tapping into the rich innovative and ‘hustlers’ spirit’ (as we like to call it locally) of the Kenya people. There have been multi-million dollar investments in creating state-of-the-art co-working spaces, research labs, incubators and technology centers within the country. Mark Zuckerberg visited some of these places like iHub Nairobi and seemed to have been impressed by what he saw. In addition, Kenya hosted different international events such as The Global Entrepreneurs Summit 2015, which attracted people from around the world.
The evolving entrepreneurial ecosystem in Kenya and the opportunities are more than wonderful. I am an entrepreneur myself and I am really excited about the current hype in Nairobi. Since I have extensive experience in rural settings, entrepreneurs from rural parts in Kenya are also very close to my heart and I am passionate about helping them. In most cases they lack the funds, infrastructure and other resources to realize their fullest potential.
Especially for entrepreneurs from rural areas, who aim to achieve social impact, my startup organized the Nairobi Entrepreneurs Camp. During this three day event entrepreneurs from rural areas were trained in business development, marketing, pitching, social impact measurement and value creation etc; topics they have rarely had access to. They had an opportunity to experience a cool co-working space in Nairobi and to meet successful instructors and serial entrepreneurs from all over the world.
I am convinced that it is time that Africa shifts its attention towards rural entrepreneurs. They have to be provided with reliable, affordable and stable electricity, internet connectivity and co-working spaces, just like the rest of us freely enjoy.
I am aware of the fact that these micro-ventures do not promise the same revenues like high-tech startups in Nairobi. The rural communities deserve, not only to be used for social narratives of poverty and illiteracy to secure funding, but to be empowered with resources, skills and infrastructure to become independent. Much of the potential of Africa lies in its rural communities. The also need a hype – now!
This article was written by Jacob Opara. Jacob is a fellow at the Do School www.thedoschool.org and a correspondent for Youth Hub Africa, the fastest growing youth platform in Africa www.youthhubafrica.org. He just participated in this year’s COP22 Conference in Marrakech.