Many start ups struggle to gain recognition by trying to siphon investments from different places instead of building a brand and business that can benefit themselves and the society at large. Speaking at SAP and Acumen Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship cocktail ceremony, Vimal Shah said that every business should be big enough to employ people and focus on growth not just in Kenya but across the whole region.
In the spirit of supporting start ups, SAP and Acumen came together to celebrate the progress of the Social Entrepreneur Fellowship on 19 November in Nairobi. The two have been supporting social enterprises that fight poverty and try to conserve the environment across the continent.
“Social enterprises can accelerate innovation, create jobs, and spur economic growth,” said Andrew Waititu, Managing Director at SAP East Africa. “That’s especially true in Kenya, which needs to create more 3.9 million jobs by 2020, according to a new Endeavor Insight Report. The SAP Social Entrepreneur Fellowship gives these CEOs the opportunity to learn from business and technology experts, so they can take their business to the next level while driving sustainable growth in their countries.”
Anyway, Vimal Shah supports the work done by the enterprises but urged them to focus on all edges in economic development not just social entrepreneurship since business men and women tend include everything to build a successful venture, ” a clear purpose and goal in a business is important.” He said.
As part of the fellowship, the CEOs, all from Acumen’s portfolio, traveled to Silicon Valley in July to take part in a leadership development program before returning to execute their plans for growth in their respective countries. Their enterprises, which represent a variety of sectors including energy, agriculture and education, take an innovative approach to addressing the problems of poverty. They have proven business models with the potential to scale and replicate across multiple markets but face a number of challenges, ranging from marketing to talent recruitment, keeping them from becoming sustainable businesses capable of creating lasting social impact. The SAP fellowship was designed to address these challenges and build social enterprises to create jobs and promote economic growth throughout these emerging markets.
“With a 40-person team spread across seven countries, it’s been challenging to actually make swift progress,” said Ashifi Gogo, CEO of Sproxil, a mobile verification service that helps protect East African consumers from counterfeit medicine and other products. “We took the learnings from the fellowship to create a common language and synthesize our ideas. It can be lonely as an entrepreneur when you’re discovering these new growth frontiers, so it’s important to find like-minded people to reinforce our beliefs and trigger collective success. The fellowship was a tremendous platform to bring CEOs like myself together.”
Enterprises that participated in the program grew by a huge margin in senior management and driving in new innovations. On a whole, the entrepreneurs improved their leadership skills in a number of areas, ranging from sharpening their pitch for investors to taking a more strategic approach to operations in order to grow their business properly.
“The Acumen CEOs who participated in the fellowship together represent a new vision for a future where all people will have choice and opportunity,” said Duncan Onyango, Acumen’s East Africa Director. Over the last 14 years, Acumen has invested in social enterprises that are creating a real, meaningful impact in the lives of the poor. Working together with companies like SAP that share our commitment, we are helping to build a stronger environment for social entrepreneurs to succeed and creating a more inclusive economy in which everyone will benefit.”
Vimal Shah urged enterprises to take advantage of the ever growing economic base in Kenya. Kenya holds the best hub in developing any kind of business because investors across the globe like Microsoft, Coca cola and others have built their headquarters in Nairobi. In addition, incubation centers and banks are ready to invest in businesses.