An initiative by GIZ under the Make-IT Africa program, attracted over 70 participants compromising students, start-ups, entrepreneurs, financial institutions, corporate partners, government representatives and various other industry stakeholders in the Big 4 Agenda ecosystem. The aim of the conference was to use the innovative methodology of Design Thinking to unlock real challenges submitted by companies operating in Kenya. The Design Thinking process was led by highly qualified hosts from SAP and Mideva Labs.

The Principal Secretary in the Kenya State Department of Investment and Industry, Ms. Betty Maina, has lauded the Make-IT Africa initiative and the start-up community for taking a bold lead in ensuring Kenya achieves the long-term goals of the Big 4 Agenda. Speaking at the conference, the PS said developing a robust SME sector is imperative towards achieving these goals. She noted that the private sector has been on the cutting edge for a long time in Kenya and, notably, the government is playing catch up in some instances. However, the government is ready and willing to support initiatives which help to shape the destiny of the country.

Ms. Aregash Asfaw, GIZ Programme Director for Sustainable Economic Development and E4D/SOGA, was also present at the event. The Make-IT Africa program, which falls under her docket has so far reached 60 digital entrepreneurs with capacity building, investment and networking, providing visibility for 600 tech start-ups within the digital ecosystem and creating opportunities for 6,000 tech start-ups within the digital ecosystem towards enhanced market access and management.

“The Tech Entrepreneurship Initiative ‘Make-IT in Africa’ promotes tech entrepreneurship for sustainable and inclusive development in sub-Sahara Africa. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) implements this project on behalf of the BMZ as part of BMZ’s Digital Africa Initiative” said Ms. Asfaw.

Make-IT-Africa is a 4Million Euro program by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development in Germany (BMZ). In close collaboration with over 20 corporate and financing partners, social enterprises, hubs and networks, Make-IT in Africa supports an enabling environment for young entrepreneurs in the digital sector through enhanced access to finance, markets and skills. This leads to generation of jobs, economic growth and innovative solutions. The program is currently being piloted in Kenya and Nigeria.

Among the challenges included the Merck: Curafa long-term sustainability challenge, Moringa School’s ambitious goal to train over 1000 students by end of 2019, Bizna Kenya’s networking and market growth challenge and Tunapanda’s brand awareness and growth strategy. Additional value was added by start-ups present representing the agricultural sector and affordable housing. The aim of the conference was for startups to learn from each other and use out of the box thinking to unlock the main challenge they were given while also considering their own challenges.

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