SBC Network & Entrepreneurship Development in Kenya

SBC Network & Entrepreneurship Development in Kenya

Entrepreneurs are widely recognized as the prime movers of economic development; the people who translate ideas into action. An interesting though not widely accepted definition of an entrepreneur is a person who has the ability to scan and identify opportunities in his or her environment, gather the resources necessary to take advantage of the opportunities and implement successful action to utilize the opportunities.

A good example being an entrepreneurial businessperson. This definition identifies an entrepreneur by their behavior rather than the specific occupation they are involved in. Those who have studied entrepreneurial behavior have noted certain characteristics such as innovativeness, ability and willingness to take calculated risks, determination, insight, total involvement, independence, need for achievement, leadership ability and so on.

Recognizing the prime-mover status of business entrepreneurs, the Kenya Government has implemented a wide-ranging set of strategies to encourage youth to initiate their own small businesses. The major focus for this effort is small enterprise development (SED). Small enterprise development in Kenya has traditionally involved establishing an enabling environment for small enterprise growth including analysis and adjustments to the regulatory environment that has been a hindrance to prospective small business owners. Formal small enterprise development policy encompasses entrepreneurship development programs under a heading 'Non-Financial Promotional Programs' (NFPP). The other two aspects in SED policy are the provision of responsive small enterprise credit facilities and an examination of gender issues.

Entrepreneurship development is primarily aimed at youth in technical training institutions but is now being expanded to include the Universities. It involves introducing youth to entrepreneurship education with the aim of getting them to think about entrepreneurship and the role of business entrepreneurs in economic development. They also get an opportunity to analyze the difficult employment situation in Kenya and are encouraged to consider self-employment as a career choice. Stacked up against such a choice are many examples of business failures in the community, negative attitudes towards business, and misconceptions about what makes a business succeed (the common view is that all you need to succeed is 'capital).

One major task of entrepreneurship education trainers is to counter these negative influences with positive ones such as presentation of successful role models and case studies of successful small enterprises. One major problem is how to integrate entrepreneurship concepts and practices into the teaching of technical subjects. Students are encouraged to initiate micro-businesses while still in college as a way to enable them to acquire an insight into the operation of a business. They are also required to identify a potential business as well as prepare and present a complete Business Plan as their final-year evaluation in the subject.

Selecting Promising Entrepreneurs

A panel of experts from small enterprise development agencies, financial institutions and entrepreneurship development agencies would select promising Plans and encourage the selected graduates to develop their plans, attend further training and implement their Plans. It is hoped that in this way, more youth will initiate their own businesses and that more of such businesses would succeed.It is estimated that as many as 75% of small enterprises started in Kenya fail within three years of their birth. Indeed an enterprise that is more than three years old is regarded as having achieved some measure of success.

Supporting the Young Entrepreneurs

In order to ensure that the young entrepreneurs do not go out into the business 'jungle' and face the difficulties on their own (yes, it is not easy!), Small Business Centers have been established with several objectives such as assisting students finalize their Business plans and link them with financiers, develop information and other resources, develop small business assistance programs for women and disadvantaged groups within their communities and conduct research in entrepreneurship and small business development.

The SBCs will offer consultancy and counseling services to small businesses and provide need-based training for the same target group. At the moment 17 SBCs exist all over the country. This program is of great interest to small enterprise specialists everywhere because of its unique features; in no other country has entrepreneurship education been introduced on such a scale. The Phillipines has been cited as one country where a similar concept has been tried out.

The SBC Network

This provides an opportunity to study the various aspects of information management including identifying high utility information, collecting, processing it, and providing it to clients in as useful a form as possible. The author is presently designing a study to investigate some of these aspects. Articles on DEVEL-L have indicated that there are efforts to put networks to use in Africa and underlined the crucial role of private initiative in such efforts. SBCs may be regarded as low level centers that deal with low technology micro-enterprises or alternatively as the start of an effective nation-wide enterprise support network with all the sophistication and effectiveness of similar service providers in the US and elsewhere. I take the latter view. The ability for SBCs to acquire up-to-date information depends on the availability and cost of such information. One way to improve access speed and reduce cost is by implementing a computer-based information system linked to the international networks (Internet) and regional networks. This would enable information sharing a well as expertise sharing among SBCs. However, mechanisms for generating usable information are yet to be developed and useful databases are very scarce.

Regional Center for Enterprise Development ( RCED )

The SBCs have local perspectives with each assigned specific geographical areas of operation. The need for a center with a national and regional perspective was fulfilled by the fledgling RCED which is one of its kind in Africa. This Center is based at the Jomo Kenyatta University College of Agriculture and Technology situated about half an hour north of Nairobi. The Center's activities 'are geared towards entrepreneurship, managerial and extension oriented research, entrepreneurship studies and technological research; consultancy, rural enterprise development, small and medium enterprise, information dissemination and appropriate technology, and conduct of industry dialogues, conferences and appreciation seminars. ... It is a center of excellence and innovation in the field of small, medium and large enterprise training, promotion and development' (RCED brochure). The Center has a Small Business Center (or Unit) as part of its activities with the SBC functions being similar to those of SBCs at technical training institutions (TTI).


The issue of funding is a major one. The challenge to all these efforts is to develop a self-supporting system of operation with funds generated from the consultancy, training, evaluation and research activities. It is very unlikely that external funding from the UNDP (the funding agency for the program) will last for an extended length of time. However, such funding though sporadic is useful in acquiring equipment and other facilities that are capital intensive such as computers and photocopiers.

Global networking

The Regional Center is looking for partners globally and if you happen to share common interests you may contact the director:

Director: Mr. G. S. Namusonge
FAX: 254 02 545892 (Kenya- 254 is the country code)
or FAX 254 151 31014
Phone: 254 151 22646
Postal address: Regional Center for Enterprise Development
P.O. Box 62000

Jason M. Githeko

From: jmunyiri@VMD.CSO.UIUC.EDU
Newsgroups: bit.listserv.devel-l
Subject: Entrepreneurship Development in Kenya
Date: 26 Jul 93 18:32:56 GMT
Reply-To: jmunyiri@VMD.CSO.UIUC.EDU

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
Previous Menu Home Page What's New Search Country Specific