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GES 2015 AN INSPIRATION TO YOUNG KENYANS

President Barack Obama, right, arrives with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for a bilateral meeting at State House, on Saturday, July 25, 2015, in Nairobi, Kenya. Obama heralded Africa as a continent "on the move" Saturday as he opened a U.S.-sponsored business summit in Kenya, the East African nation where he has deep family ties. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Barack Obama, right, arrives with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for a bilateral meeting at State House, on Saturday, July 25, 2015, in Nairobi, Kenya. Obama heralded Africa as a continent “on the move” Saturday as he opened a U.S.-sponsored business summit in Kenya, the East African nation where he has deep family ties. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

By Winnie Kabintie

The dust is just settling down on the buzz created around the country last week as we geared for the sixth annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES 2015), which Kenya was hosting, a major first in sub-Saharan Africa.

Better still, our brother, US president Barrack Obama was also making the much-awaited visit to the country since he was elected.

Approximately 1,000 outstanding entrepreneurs and investors from across the world assembled in Nairobi for the summit and local entrepreneurs got a major platform to showcase the budding innovation spirit not just in Kenya but in Africa at large.

Quite notable is that for the first time the crème of Kenya’s population, the youth who are now considered as key drivers of the economy, understood the impact the summit had for them as a generation and the country at large.

SOCIAL MEDIA EXPOSURE

Social media played a big role in giving majority of people more exposure and information and the more the summit and the Obama visit were talked about, the more the hunger for more in-depth and insightful reports grew and it was therefore not surprising when Kenyans were mad at the local media for failure to give much comprehensive news regarding the summit and instead chose to give prominence to the glamour side of the event.

Kenyans on twitter took under the hashtag #KenyaMediaFailure to criticize the media for the mistake.

YOUTHS INSPIRED

A majority of the young people paying attention to the summit could only follow the proceedings from the media but that did not water down the desire to pick critical lessons and insights.

In a country where a large number of the population remains unemployed, people are turning to entrepreneurship and therefore hosting GES was timely.

Entrepreneurs who attended the summit got the opportunity to be mentored, showcase their work and pitch their ideas to investors as well with some lucky few getting funding.

President Obama announced that the U.S. Government is committing significant new resources to advance entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa. He announced over $1 billion in new commitments from banks, foundations, philanthropists, and the U.S. Government, with half of that money going to support youth and women entrepreneurs.

Quite notable is that two days after the close of the summit, there is a breed of young people who are still fired up from the event. President’s Obama’s speech also went a long way in motivating the nation and we can only hope that Kenyans will keep up with the spirit.

“Obama’s speech at Kasarani has really given me a wake-up call as an entrepreneur , now I feel I have what it takes to take my business to the next level,” said Martin Karanja, an entrepreneur in the tour industry.

As a good friend likes saying; “there are two kinds of people in this world, those who make things happen and those who watch things happen,”

PRESIDENT UHURU’S LEADERSHIP SKILLS BROUGHT TO THE FORE

Since his election, president Uhuru has demonstrated a sense of leadership which has been quite remarkable even though critics have often dismissed it as mere public relation stunts.

This weekend, however, his eloquence, demeanor and the passion in which he spoke about Kenya for some moments made us forget the issues facing our nation and focus on what was happening.

Particularly, Uhuru’s progressive speech during the launch of GES, which focused on business and also the boldness in which he handled the gay issue, without any fear of contradiction as he and Obama addressed journalists in statehouse.

“I repeatedly say that for Kenyans today the issue of gay rights is really a non-issue. We want to focus on other areas…maybe once, like you, have overcome some of these challenges, we can begin to look at other ones, but as of now the fact remains that this issue is not really an issue that is at the foremost minds of Kenyans and that is a fact,” said Uhuru.

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