Strathmore University late last month was the venue for the successful Pathways for Prosperity Commission Tech and Entrepreneurship Town Hall with Strive Masiyiwa.
In the spirit of this Commission, engaging with multiple stakeholders in the technology for development sphere, the Town hall meeting co-hosted by Kwese Inc hosted a panel of discussions on the role of technology-focused entrepreneurship in creating jobs and engendering inclusive growth.
Strive Masiyiwa, Chairman and Founder of Econet Wireless Media, Shivani Siroya, founder and CEO of Tala, James Mwangi – CEO Equity Bank and Dr. Kamal Bhattacharya, CIO, Safaricom Innovation Hub; provided a lively discussion on the ways that Africa can use entrepreneurship as a development strategy, as well as to explore enabling factors for widespread innovation from the continent.
According to Mr Masiyiwa, in recognition of this, initiatives to spur co-creation of employment opportunities as presented by entrepreneurial ventures; remains as one of the significant avenues to increase economic progression, create employment and alleviate poverty. “Although this is not mentioned quite as often, we cannot fail to mention the significant role Entrepreneurship continues to play in raising the living standards of people, consequently reducing poverty. Poverty around the world has reduced by 40%. By giving a voice to entrepreneurs, we are creating pathways to solving some of the World’s greatest challenges.”
Shivani Siroya said, “Creating an enabling and trusting environment that facilitates the growth of entrepreneurship is key in unblocking opportunities and presenting scalable business models that solve societal problems,”
Giving a local example on how innovation can break barriers, the CEO of Equity Bank, Dr James Mwangi said how the bank has used technology as well as its continuous commitment to progressive transition from traditional operations to modern banking.
According to him, Equity Bank’s Equitel – the Group’s Mobile Banking platform which has only operated in Kenya for one year has already captured 15% of the total mobile money transfer market in both value and volume transactions, continues to illustrate how momentously innovation continues to influence business operations.
Currently, Equity Group Holdings Limited has a customer base of more than 9.2 million in the six East African countries that it serves, making it the largest commercial bank on the African continent by customer numbers. “Cost reduction in our business operations has been greatly influenced by our heavy reliance on innovation,” said James.
The highlight of the event was when the 12 finalists of the Kwesé Inc #GoGettaz entrepreneurship competition pitched their ventures to a panel of judges and to a live audience in Nairobi, Kenya.
Nigeria’s Ezinne Uko and Kenya’s Peter Wachira rose to the top of over 4800 entries and won the $200,000 Kwesé Inc #GoGettaz entrepreneurship competition grand prize from a group of 12 finalists from DRC, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
With a $100 000 USD investments for Ezinne and Peter and a similar amount in credit facility from Equity Bank Kenya; the two will have a two week mentorship at Kwesé’s headquarters in South Africa with Strive Masiyiwa, founder and Executive Chairman of Econet Global. The 10 runners up each receive $10 000 USD investment in their ventures.
Peter Wachira, a Kenyan when asked what inspired him to innovate and become a winner, he spoke of the challenges his neighbors in the slum faced as children, especially in accessing clean water. He founded a for profit company, ARYV, where he and his team developed a solution that purifies water using clay pots, a locally available material. The filter eliminates up to 99.8% water-borne diseases and can be afforded by an ordinary person.
Strathmore Business School congratulates Peter Wachira from Kenya (male) and Ezinne Uko, (female), from Nigeria who won the challenge.
Over 600 audiences from public, private sector, academia, entrepreneurs, and techies attended the eighth Africa Entrepreneurship Town Hall. The most important thing about the Town Hall is that it focused on solutions for the future.
“It was great to see top business leaders, government officials, technology experts, academics and student all thinking about how new technologies can help rather than harm society. Today is how we build Africa’s future and end poverty globally. Together we listen, we innovate and we take action — with data and vision,” said Masiyiwa.