GES set for Kenya this weekend, Obama to speak

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The first Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) to be held in Sub-Saharan Africa kicks off in Nairobi, Kenya, tomorrow (July 25), bringing together startups, business leaders, mentors, and high-level government officials.

President of the United States (US) Barack Obama is address the event, which has expanded globally since Obama elevated entrepreneurship to the forefront of the his engagement agenda in Cairo in 2009, with summits held in the US, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Malaysia, and Morocco.

Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John and Mark Cuban, three of the investors from United States (US) live pitching television show Shark Tank, will be among the 3,000 delegates, and will give keynote speeches at the event.

Other keynote speakers include Tony Elumelu, founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, and Antonio Gracias, founder of Valor Equity Partners, while the event will feature a number of sessions on topics such as “Financing Entrepreneurship”, “Getting Ready for Growth”, and “Protecting Intellectual Capital”, as well as breakout networking and mentoring sessions.

Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta has said the country was a “fitting” host for this year’s GES, as the country “epitomises the transformational power” of entrepreneurial possibility.

Kenyatta considered the specific transformations Kenya has seen – in particular Kenya’s increasing reputation in the technology innovation sector – saying the changes in the country reflect the rise of Africa.

“A land once known for its savannah, now earning international repute as a Silicon Savannah. Where the vibrancy of the economy is matched only by the verve of our youth. Where groundbreaking refers not just to one of the largest infrastructural projects in Africa, but also to our trailblazing mobile money transfer technology. A land that reflects the growth of a continent on the rise, a hub for investment, commerce, trade and tourism,” Kenyatta said.

As a precursor, a pre-GES exhibition has been taking place at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) focusing on innovation and promotion of entrepreneurship. Over 240 Kenyan ICT innovators have been showcasing their solutions and products at the event.

Meanwhile, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) has confirmed it is sponsoring the GES to the tune of KES10 million (US$100,000), with chief executive officer (CEO) Joshua Oigara saying the bank is committed to Africa and optimistic about the continent’s future potential in the areas of entrepreneurship and innovation.

“For us, this is a platform for the bank to demonstrate its strong impact and heritage in Africa and its future commitment to the continent,” said Oigara.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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