Skip links

The encouraging entrepreneurial spirit in Kenya

Kenya’s entrepreneurial spirit is firmly focused on social impact. Most Kenyan entrepreneurs are driven by the desire to create businesses that address pressing social and environmental issues; such as food security, unemployment, education and climate change.

Over the years, Kenyan entrepreneurship has evolved significantly; driven by the strong, vibrant and dynamic spirit of Kenyan entrepreneurs. As published by NACOSTI, Kenya is the fifth most developed country in Sub-Saharan Africa and has a more active and favorable entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem than some European Countries. The country’s steady economic growth can be attributed to the widespread and enhanced strengthening of entrepreneurs all over the country.

As an intern at the E4Impact Entrepreneurship Center – Kenya (in Nairobi), I have had the chance to work closely with entrepreneurs who are making significant contributions to the local economy and to discover directly the opportunities and challenges they face in building and scaling their businesses. As an Italian, I have the privilege to interact with people from a different background than mine and learn the main features of the Kenyan entrepreneurial culture.

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about the Kenyan entrepreneurial environment is diversity. Women and youth are not just minor players. Instead, they represent a large part of the ecosystem and play a significant role in contributing to economic growth, job creation, and social impact. Taking part in the launch of the WONDER Program allowed me to see with my own eyes the strong motivation of Kenyan women in business. The program aims at supporting and strengthening African women entrepreneurs.

This strong ambition and vivid resilience is common with every entrepreneur I have had a chance to interact with at the E4Impact Nairobi Center. They are passionate about creating innovative solutions to local challenges and are willing to take risks to achieve their goals. Interestingly, and different from Italy, Kenya’s entrepreneurial spirit is firmly focused on social impact. Most Kenyan entrepreneurs are driven by the desire to create businesses that address pressing social and environmental issues; such as food security, unemployment, education, and climate change. The agribusiness entrepreneurs who I have met have demonstrated dedication to developing environmentally sustainable products and climate-smart solutions for Kenyan agriculture; as well as sharing their knowledge with local small-holder farmers to help them evolve.

Finally, Kenya’s population is extremely responsive to innovation and digitization. The country has a large youth population; with a significant proportion of them being tech-savvy and open to embracing new ideas and technologies. This has resulted in the emergence of numerous innovative startups initiated by young Kenyans in sectors such as agri-tech, agri-circularity, and renewable energy.

Kenya also faces numerous challenges in its entrepreneurial ecosystem such as a lack of market, capital, education, and information access, inadequate infrastructure; especially in some regions, low technological innovation adoption rates, difficulty in scaling up, and gender disparity among others. However, as David Cheboryot – Director E4Impact Entrepreneurship Centers, once put it, Kenyan startups have a promising future since they are supported by a startup ecosystem that has achieved laudable milestones such as commendable levels of funding, an increase in the number of hubs supporting the ecosystem and the introduction of policies and regulations by the government to support the sector – case in point, the startup bill.

Entities like the E4Impact Entrepreneurship Center – Kenya play a crucial and vital role in the further development of the Kenyan entrepreneurial ecosystem. The Center provides early-stage entrepreneurs and already established and operating businesses with capacity building, access to networks, markets, and funding, mentorship, and the guidance they need to innovate, scale up and make a long-term economic and social impact.

By Maddalena Scribanis