I need to pause the series #AfricanLionessRoar for a week to enable me to report on one of the most important developments for entrepreneurs this year:
The Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), which is being held in Kenya (#GES2015KENYA)
Some of you may already have heard of this important event, which is also being attended by U.S. President Barrack Obama.
As I have said before, if you are an entrepreneur or desire to be an entrepreneur one of the most important skills you need is the ability to “network” with other entrepreneurs, financiers, investors, business leaders, policy makers and civil society leaders. This you can do by attending such gatherings, whether they are local, national or international.
This is part of “investing” in your own success: You need to listen to others, and also exchange ideas.
When you are not able to attend such gatherings for whatever reason including financial, then follow the event using social media, and Youtube.
GES is one of the most important events for entrepreneurs that takes place anywhere in the world. The Summit was started by President Obama in 2009 to foster entrepreneurship and it has been hosted every year in different countries, such as Turkey, the US, Malaysia etc. This year it is in Kenya – the first time it’s taking place in Sub-Saharan Africa.
There are thousands of delegates that have arrived here in Nairobi, and most of them are young business and social entrepreneurs, and virtually every African country is well represented, as well as Europe, Asia, the U.S., Latin America, and the Middle East. I have never seen anything like it, and it has not even started. It feels like going to the Olympic Games!
#YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS HAVE LITERALLY TAKEN OVER NAIROBI.
Following my arrival in Nairobi on Thursday afternoon, I immediately went to speak at an event organised by the Case Foundation, called “Unleashing Entrepreneurship”. Although not part of the main event of GES, it is one of many events leading up to the opening of GES on Saturday.
I shared a panel discussion with Jean and Steve Case, the founders of America Online (AOL) – one of the great businesses that developed the early phase of the Internet industry, and became a multi-billion dollar business.
Jean and Steve are passionate philanthropists who dedicate their time and considerable fortune helping your entrepreneurs around the world. They are passionate about Africa.
# we discussed the challenges of helping young entrepreneurs get capital for their projects.
# we urged banks to change the way they approach lending, so they can accommodate the needs of young entrepreneurs.
# we called for the development of venture capitalists to set up special funds to help early stage entrepreneurs.
# we called on governments to do more to recognise the role of women entrepreneurs across Africa.
# we called on governments to ensure that traditions, and legal barriers that prevent women from accumulating wealth be dismantled immediately.
# we must not treat women in the small enterprise sector (including smallholder farmers) as though they are invisible. We must empower them with resources and training, and we must treat their activities with respect. We must also recognise that they contribute far much more to economic activity and employment creation than is often acknowledged.
After the discussion I had an opportunity to mingle with many of Africa’s leading young entrepreneurs. It is mind blowing to hear the things they are doing! …If you are not here this time, please, please try and come to such events next time.
The organisers of GES itself have been very kind to give me a platform on some of the main plenary sessions. I’m particularly excited about a keynote event on Saturday on ‘Financing Entrepreneurship’, where I’ll be joined by Ashish Thakkar (Mara Group), Loretta McCarthy (Golden Seeds), Julie Hanna (Kiva) and Mindy Silverstein (Milken Institute).
To be continued…
There are three more #AfricanLionessRoar posts to come.
Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality. Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. He is one of the founders, with Sir Richard Branson, of the global think tank, the Carbon War Room, and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education. Masiyiwa took over the Chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from Kofi Annan. He is also Chair of the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization focused on ending child hunger and improving nutrition. In 2012, Masiyiwa was invited by President Obama to address leaders at the Camp David G-8 Summit on how to increase food production and end hunger in parts of Africa. In 2014, Masiyiwa was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. As a philanthropist, he is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to over 42,000 African orphans. In 2015, he was the recipient of the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award and was presented with a UN Foundation Global Leadership Award for the work of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which he chairs and helped establish to fund the deployment of African healthcare workers to combat the outbreak in West Africa.View all posts by Strive Masiyiwa