, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 23 – “My husband and I invested all our savings in Kenya and for the last ten years we can’t regret,” says Louise Labuschagne, CEO Real IPM Crop Solutions.
She is making a comment during this year’s Kenya International Investment Conference (KIICO) after the formal speeches.
When Labuschagne and her husband came to Kenya in the year 2000, it never occurred to them that their agribusiness idea would turn into a multimillion company not only in Kenya but regionally. The company’s bio-pesticides products already have registration in Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa.
Real IPM Crop Solutions, based in Thika, allows growers to protect their crops using bio-pesticides instead of chemical pesticides hence encourage organic farming.
“I have been here quiet along time and I can tell all of you here that living and doing business in Kenya has been amazing. You can make anything here,” she says amid applause from the crowd..
Labuschagne is speaking to over 500 investors who have congregated at KIICO at Kenya International Convention Centre in Nairobi, to get a clear understanding of the available investment opportunities in the country and the East African region.
Deputy President William Ruto acknowledges the importance of agribusiness in Kenya which he says if given the needed attention, will contribute more to the economy from the current 25 percent.
“The average age of a farmer is 60 years old and this is because our young people think of farming as taking a ‘jembe’ and going to the farm. But we want to change this by modernizing of farming and taking agribusiness to the next level,” he said while officially opening the second edition of the conference.
The DP announced plans by government to import close to 4,000 tractors for hire by farmers. At the same time the government is working with the Korean government to improve the dairy sector.
Even as Kenya remains optimistic of attracting more investors, negative perceptions including issues of insecurity, corruption, diseases among others have remained a big challenge.
But according US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec negative narrative is slowly changing adding that a lot of American companies are ready interested in doing business in Kenya.
“I can see a significant increase in American business in Kenya and this is because Africa’s recognition is growing despite challenges. I would say this is the right time to take up the available opportunities,” Godec said.
Representing the business community, Industrialist Dr Chris Kirubi called for partnerships between the foreign and local investors to make it easier for foreign businesses to easily settle in the Kenyan market and eventually break even.
“We have the best President in Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, we have the best business environment, we have the best work force, and I believe there are huge opportunities in this our great country. I want every one of you to take my number so that when you miss something, you will not come later and blame me,” he said.