AAIN, World Bank, Kenya County Governments explore new frontiers for agribusiness incubation in Kenya

As countries strive to achieve the projected global economic growth rate of 3.4% in 2017, experts from the World Bank and the African Agribusiness Incubators Network (AAIN) have explored opportunities for the creation of dependable wealth and jobs.

With the youth as major target beneficiaries, the experts are looking to expand the coverage for agribusiness incubation in Kenya, one of the fastest growing economies in Africa today.

Findings and resolutions were discussed at the County Innovation and Learning Forum, a convening organised by the Kenya Council of Governors (CoG), Kenya School of Government and the Ministry of Planning and Devolution with support from the World Bank and Africa Lead and dubbed “Harnessing Social Enterprise Innovations to Promote Inclusive Livelihoods and Service Delivery” in Nairobi from the 14th to the 16th of June in Nairobi this year.

Left to right: AAIN Board Chairperson Prof Henry Bwisa, Dr. Manu Chandaria and Dr. Meena Munshi, Senior Economist with the World Bank.

Responding to growing demand

Prof Henry Bwisa, the AAIN Board Chairperson who represented AAIN alongside Dr Alex Ariho the CEO and in-country representatives summed up key challenges to job creation in the country and region.

 “Entrepreneurship can be said to be about identifying innovative and viable business opportunities, organizing and getting the necessary resources, combining factors of production and starting up a growth-oriented wealth and employment creating venture. There are multiple windows of opportunity here but many people are poor due to Passing Over Opportunities Repeatedly”- Prof Henry Bwisa, AAIN Board Chairperson.

The major opportunity, as hinted by Prof Bwisa is the potential to expand AAIN-model agribusiness incubation in the countries which coincided with growing demand from the county governments and World Bank representatives in the same direction.

A progressive programme for incubation was endorsed by representatives from governments, development partners, private sector and county leaders for kick off.

“In addition to tailor-made and AAIN-model incubation, the leaders called for AAIN and World Bank investment in among others, innovation commercialisation, enhanced access to finance by start-ups and youth, input and output market development, infrastructure development and reforms in policy and agribusiness education in Kenya to meet increasing population demands especially youth unemployment. A series of outputs and opportunities that we will be rolling out will be unveiled at the next Africa Agribusiness Incubation Conference and Expo in Dakar, Senegal from the 4th to the 6th of October this year” –Dr Alex Ariho, AAIN CEO.

Dr Alex Ariho the AAIN CEO (Left) with Prof Henry Bwisa the Board Chairperson while at the Nairobi meeting that set the pace for renewed agribusiness incubation in Kenya.

Replicate to create jobs

Renowned Kenyan businessman and multi-millionaire Manu Chandaria who was the chief guest, called for the replication of innovations through partners like AAIN to create more jobs and wealth.

Outstanding Kenyan businessman Dr. Manu Chandaria shared on the importance of harnessing innovation for job creation. An item that AAIN will be taking on in Kenya.

The World Bank Group recognizes that innovation and entrepreneurship are solutions to address major challenges to economic development.

The AAIN/World Bank partnership is expected to make agriculture more attractive and profitable and attract the youth to the agricultural sector.

Fronting devolution to spur growth 

As hinted by Diaretou Gaye, the World Bank Country Director for Kenya, support towards economic development is at the centre of the Bank’s 2014–2018 Partnership Strategy with Kenya which includes devolution as one of the three pillars.

Reports from the Bank indicate a targeted total of US$4 billion in investment under this arrangement.

The Kenya Ministry of Devolution and Planning was represented by among others, Irungu Nyakera the Principal Secretary.

A bright future from strong partnership 

The joint input will see faster growth for counties like Bungoma in the West which is ranked as one of the most fertile and the fourth largest producer of maize and beans after Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu and Nakuru Counties but with a wealth gap of 78.2%.

Major academic institutions including the Jomo Kenyatta University will also take the lead in promoting effective agribusiness education, a component of the AAIN investment plan.

The historical convening also included Manu Chandaria’s reference to a Swahili song with lyrics written by Prof. Bwisa to urge participants to reach for unexploited innovative opportunities in each county for the better.