NAIROBI, Kenya, May 7 – British Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, took part in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style pitching event during his visit to Nairobi last week, to help find Kenya’s next budding entrepreneur.
Ten shortlisted candidates pitched to a panel of entrepreneurs and innovators for the chance to access up to Sh13 million each in grant funding and technical assistance to help them scale up. The selected innovative enterprises were focused on one of three sectors: agriculture and manufacturing; the informal sector; or marginalised groups.
The Foreign Secretary joined a panel of judges, chaired by Darshan Chandaria, to grill candidates on their business proposals, helping identify those which could have a transformative impact, creating jobs for Kenya’s young population.
The winners of the pitching event were Ten Senses Africa, TakaTaka Solutions, Lynk Jobs Limited, Savanna Circuit and Build Her.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “As a former entrepreneur myself, I have been inspired by the dynamic and talented businessmen and women I have met in Kenya, and look forward to seeing their fantastic companies become the household names of the future.”
CEO, Chandaria Group & Founder, Chandaria Capital, Darshan Chandaria said: “I am honoured to be a part of the Kenya Catalytic Jobs Fund judging panel. I am very passionate about entrepreneurship and youth development. Great to see our Kenyan youth coming up with innovative business ideas that promote job creation and the Kenyan economy. Investing in SMEs is critical for all aspects of the country’s development. I am also very thankful to Nic Hailey, the British High Commissioner and the UK government for supporting Kenya through this generous initiative. Congratulations to all the winners and for those who didn’t get it this time, there is always a next time.”
The pitching event was the first of its kind under the new Kenya Catalytic Jobs Fund, a £5 million UK aid funded programme, announced during the British Prime Minister’s visit last year. The Jobs Fund is being implemented by Mercy Corps, a global organisation recognised as a thought leader in tackling youth unemployment in Kenya. The fund supports tried and tested business ideas, helping them scale up to stimulate large-scale job creation in Kenya.
“I am thrilled that Mercy Corps is working with the UK Government to find local solutions to one of Kenya’s most pressing issues,” said
Allison Huggins, Mercy Corps Deputy Regional Director for Africa.
“Unemployment in Kenya is the highest in East Africa and yet it is a nation that is driving innovation on the continent. The aim of this award is to bridge the gap between innovators and the unemployed,” she added.
The UK Department for International Development (DFID)’s Kenya Catalytic Job Fund will invest £5 million over the next four years with a focus on creating jobs for young people. The fund targets tried and tested enterprises creating opportunities in agriculture and manufacturing; opportunities in the informal sector (e.g. for artisans, small-scale farmers and micro-enterprises); and opportunities for marginalised groups & geographies.
The judges for the event were: Darshan Chandaria, Sally Gitonga, Bindi Karia, Andrew Carruthers and Nancy Kairo. The judges were joined by British Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt.