The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry is extremely overjoyed by the launch of the International Chamber of Commerce- United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ICC-UNECA) Centre of Entrepreneurship (CoE) in Africa- on Thursday 16 September, 2021, during which the hosts of the first four hubs in Africa (Kenya, Morocco,Nigeria and Ghana) were introduced.
As KNCCI we are honored to be a member of the ICC and the private sector partner to bring this vision to life. The launch follows the inauguration of the ICC first hub in Istanbul in February 2020 and the hub in Beirut October 2020.
We are pleased to host the ICC Centre of Entrepreneurship Hub for East and Central Africa region. This region extensively covers the Africa Great Lakes Region of 12 member states, which I chair the Private Sector Forum.
Therefore, on behalf of KNCCI and the Great Lakes Region Private Sector Forum, I extend
warm congratulations to the establishment of the Centre and glad that ICC and UNECA are
establishing their new center in Nairobi, joining a worldwide network of other ICC enterprise centers globally.This is an important milestone and initiative, aiming to accelerate the adoption of digital
solutions, building new capabilities and drive digital innovations for the region to be future-
ready for intra trade.
We are thankful that the ICC Centre of innovation is now expanding its presence in the African region, to prepare and mobilize the next generation of entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurship hub will enhance development of skills for young people who face uncertain employment prospects and boost local entrepreneurship and future job opportunities.
The launch of this continental hub today, reflects the aspirations of Africa’s Agenda 2063 that is expected to transform Africa to a global powerhouse that we Africans want and deserve. Entrepreneurship must be at the heart of Africa’s economic transformation. The region is blessed with a youthful and talented population that has continuously demonstrated ability to develop innovative solutions to solve current social-economic challenges.
The Hub will not only enable individual citizens to build meaningful livelihoods but also ensure they do this in a functioning market economy. Additionally, the Centre will serve as a platform to scale globally the most successful local and regional entrepreneurial initiatives driven by Chambers of Commerce and Innovative partners. This will leverage on digital connectivity to pair entrepreneurs with experts from the UN and ICC’s global network to provide virtual mentoring and coaching.
The ‘Africa Economic Outlook 2017 on Entrepreneurship and Industrialization’ expressed a vibrant entrepreneurship culture with the Continent having the highest share of adults starting or running new businesses, but often ‘survival entrepreneurs’ in sectors with low productivity. In 2019, the failure rate of startups globally was around 90%, with 50% not making it to their fifth birthday.
The African Continent is in need of systematic and deliberate efforts to empower and support the continent’s future entrepreneurs to contribute to economic growth by being integrated into the formal economy.
Therefore, the Centre of Entrepreneurship will enable new entrepreneurs adapt to the dynamic business environment by equipping them with digital skills transferable in any business setup. With many businesses stagnating, following the economic impact of the covid-19 pandemic, the Centre will act as a focal point for technology entrepreneurs to network with potential investors.
Local start-ups will be supported with the necessary resources to scale up their ideas,
including funding, business mentorship, training, and advisory. Once the start ups are fully
established, the Centre will provide a platform to access new markets, as well as position the SMEs and MSMEs to expand into regional markets.
The Kenya Chamber of Commerce has successfully implemented similar projects before, supporting SMEs and youth-led businesses with entrepreneurial training, access to zero-interest loans, access to government supply opportunities and export market links among others. We are therefore excited that the Centre will increase our capacity to generate a wider impact to MSMEs across the continent.
Entrepreneurship is a catalyst for Trade, while a conducive Trade environment encourages entrepreneurship. With the onset of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which became operational in January 2021, intra-Africa trade is expected to significantly increase through liberalization of trade policies and trade facilitation in anticipation of a free market. AfCFTA is a tool for enterprise development in Africa, and will succeed if businesses fully exploit opportunities to scale up via increased trade in the continental market.
While SMEs account for 80% of the region’s business, they struggle to penetrate into overseas markets
due to limited production and expansion capacity.
The Centre for Entrepreneurship regional hub will position the African SMEs to tap into cross-border and regional trade which they can use as a stepping stone to venture into overseas markets. The MSMEs can also benefit by supplying inputs to larger regional companies with the capacity to export, as a way to aid their participation of MSMEs in regional value chains.
In addition to the AfCFTA, the Centre will facilitate entrepreneurs to trade under existing regional blocs including COMESA, SADC, EAC and ECOWAS.This change will require systematic partnership. The Hub alone will not transform the Continent in a single night. Effective transformation will invoke commitment and goodwill from all the beneficiary countries, to establish an enabling business environment in terms of policy, regulations, as well as the physical and digital infrastructure for ease of movement of goods and services.
On behalf of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the ICGLR-PSF,
we are pleased to be part of this partnership. We welcome the launch and look forward to
commence operational of the hub, which will be a big step towards innovative growth in