A new programme that aims to build a critical mass of young African entrepreneurs has been launched at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. The Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (TIE) initiative has a mission to build capacity of young and innovative entrepreneurs through training, mentorship, networking as well as extending seed capital for business startups.
Through the initiative, over 70 students and alumni of some Kenyan universities converged, Wednesday, May 24, 2017, for a three-day Entrepreneurship/Incubation Seminar at JKUAT.
The event sought to induct participants on the essence of entrepreneurship; business models and customer development; design thinking and idea creation. Other aspects to be covered in the seminar are: value propositions, market analysis, as well as digital and communication skills.
In a keynote speech during the seminar’s opening ceremony,Ashu Bhatnagar said ideas on entrepreneurship can stem from the insights from organizations, books, individuals and government agencies, sometimes, the potential lies in the imperceptible daily encounters.
“Statements like ‘I wish” provides invaluable insights on potential for innovation and entrepreneurship,” he said.
Quoting Isaac Newton, Ashru said that entrepreneurship builds on existing knowledge and asks how to modify it to better serve current and emerging needs. He emphasized that an entrepreneurial idea is better, faster and cheaper.
Ashu who is an investor and serial entrepreneur impressed upon the budding innovative entrepreneurs to consider opportunities-rich areas such as agribusiness, energy, pollution, and water sectors.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mabel Imbuga, encouraged the participants to make use of institutional frameworks within JKUAT that promotes innovation and entrepreneurship. She singled out the JKUAT Industrial and Technology Park, where the University is currently spearheading tablets assembly for the Jubilee Government’s Digital Literacy programme (DLP).
Prof. Imbuga whose remarks were delivered by Prof. David Mulati, said innovation was the only sustainable way through Africa could surmount its socio-economic and political challenges.
The Vice Chancellor also informed the seminar that JKUAT was running an annual technology exposition programme where students showcase their talent and creativity to the academy and industry. Top innovations are then incubated by the University to commercial viability.
The Seminar was organized by the JKUAT Alumni and International Students Office (ALISO) and the JKUAT Alumni Association with support from Espoir Centre and the Mandela Washington Fellowship Programme.
ALISO Director & Mandela Washington Fellow, Dr. Churchill Saoke said the initiative had a core concern of producing thinkers with a business sense.
“The Mandela Washington Fellowship capacitated us with knowledge, skills and networks on how to engineer successful innovation and entrepreneurial activities. We are now in a move to cascade the learning to other young Kenyans through initiatives like TIE,” Dr. Saoke said.
One of the participants, Jeremiah Kuria, said he hoped to learn from the innovators and trainers during the seminar so that he could refine his innovation idea. The fourth year Computer Science student hopes to leverage on artificial intelligence to map and predict disease prevalence in Africa.
Jeremiah’s sentiments were shared by Jessica Chege who opined that the event offered an incredible opportunity for the students to learn from the industry’s best.
Jessica who is the President of AISEC, a student led youth empowerment society, said Kenyan youth had many ideas but lacked insight on the country’s innovation value.
JKUAT is seeking to work with the Alumni driven businesses to promote and bring to life innovative ideas of current students. The aim is to produce qualified and competent graduates who can create employment opportunities for themselves and other members of society.