GES Nairobi 2015

By Josiah Mugambi
  Published 22 Jul 2015
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#StartTheSpark, #GESNairobi2015, #ChooseKenya #ObamaHomeComing,#PivotEast2015, what else have I left out? So many #hash #tags already about this busy week culminating with the Global Entrepreneurship Summit starting on Friday 24th July!

More seriously, these few days present a huge opportunity beyond President Obama visiting the country.Here are some of my brief thoughts on this Summit and the events around it.

An opportunity to #Connect
One of the things we have learnt in the last few years at the iHub is the importance of connecting withnew people with varying backgrounds, of serendipity. When interacting with new people, one can get to learn something new, information thatcouldbe used whiledeveloping a product. This Global Entrepreneurship Summit will have over 1400 participants from across the world, an opportunity not to be missed by Kenya companies. There will be opportunities to network and meet new people, some of whom might become investors, business partners or even co-founders in future businesses.

There are large multinational tech corporations and smaller tech companies and startups present. Local entrepreneurs need to seek out networking opportunities, learn who are potential customers, collaborators and competitors, and how your products and services measure up globally. If intending to enter a new market, it would make sense to seek out people from that specific company. There are local and international government people if there are regulatory issues that as a business person need addressing, this would be a good time to share them, in a way that would be helpful to policy makers. One needs to be on the look out for overall trends in tech from a global perspective. This can inform new products and markets, and having this melting pot of different cultures and industries offers a unique opportunity.

If not part of the actual summit, there are so many people in town, so get to know what’s going on; what events and activities are taking place that can help connect to other people or companies, and that would be useful to your tech company. In summary, be ready to learn, network, and pounce on opportunities that present themselves.

#ChooseKenya for companies looking to establish a presence
The Kenyan government has made huge efforts in helping companies and entrepreneurs showcase their product and companies by putting up the Pre GES activities at the KICC. The Presidency has on various occasions demonstrated considerable and commendable commitment to supporting entrepreneurs in Kenya. Hopefully this will continue and even accelerate. As Phares Kariuki, co-founder of Angani, a leading public cloud provider in Kenya keeps saying, ‘just make it easy to do business’.

Whether or not an entrepreneur or company is actively participating in the Summit, the next few days provide an opportunity to showcase what the country and the region offers. Very many people whom I know who are actively employed also have a ‘side hustle’ as a source of revenue. The entrepreneurial spirit of people is something I always admire. Additionally, Kenya’s geographical location as well as a relative abundance of talented people is one other reason why many multinational companies have set up regional or continental headquarters here thus in many ways, Kenya is more than just the gateway to East Africa.

Raising #Investment
With the sheer number of angel investors, investment companies, large corporates, grant giving organisations and foundations in Nairobi this week, this presents a huge opportunity for startup companies to meet potential partners and investors. I think that startup companies seeking out investors (either at the main GES event, or at some of the related events like the KICC pre GES event and Pivot East) need to be very clear about what they are looking for when it comes to investment, as well as why and when they need it, and be prepared accordingly. My personal view is that when looking for funds for a for profit venture, it makes more sense to seek out an investment (vs a grant), especially as that gives one clearer focus. Timing is also important.

What do you think about this Summit?

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