Entrepreneurs are proactive individuals that you can describe as being more driven to improve situations around them. Nevertheless, they too need support so that they can accomplish even bigger things. Support for entrepreneurs comes from different quarters and in different forms.
At the end of the day, though, nobody can be a bigger supporter for entrepreneurship as a whole than the government. In Kenya, we have a numbers of initiatives by the Government to support your business. Unfortunately, they do not receive much publicity.
We do appreciate them and have done our fair share of coverage. We still think that more can be done considering examples from around the world.
Here are five interesting ones from really diverse countries:
This is a pretty interesting country. They did the impossible by going from a “shithole” country to a developed one in about less than the time we have been independent. Like us, they are also just beginning to see entrepreneurship in the same positive light as getting a corporate job.
South Korea’s government has taken the approach to share in the risk of business failure. They do this by incubating entrepreneurs for up to 3 years. Through this, they also fund research and development (R&D) and bring businesses closer to investors. The initiative is under the Tech Incubator Program for Startups (TIPS). Successful startups will pay back just 10% of the R&D money they get to innovate. Moreover, South Korea also actively promotes collaboration between local and foreign startups.
If you have low hopes for Kenya then Vietnam is what we should be, at the least. You don’t hear a lot about them in the news but they are definitely doing most of the right things, as an emerging economy. Remember when we used to laugh at Chinese products?
Vietnam opted to ensure food security by supporting small scale farmers instead of eliminating them. We are always told we need to do large scale farming and force everyone in rural areas to come to the city. Instead, Vietnam opted to form partnerships in training rural farmers, building farm-infrastructure for them and encouraging them to form farmers organizations so they can pool resources. This is one of the ways women entrepreneurs in Kenya can work together.
Rwanda is a small country that actually looks up to Kenya as many other African countries do (Africa is that bad). But they appear to be taking advantage of our complacency to make Rwanda be associated with business and Kenya with wildlife or whatever.
Wins for entrepreneurs in Rwanda come in the way the Government has obsessed with developing a different culture in the country. They are now associated with positives like cleanliness and efficient public service. Registration of a company takes about 2 days. Rwanda also beat us to launching an SME segment at the stock exchange. This way entrepreneurs can raise funds. They also get subsidized in accessing legal, brokerage and advisory services to list at the stock market for free.
Everyone remains amazed by how this country absolutely failed to become developed despite having everything. One of the things they have is a big middle-class for aspiring entrepreneurs. We’re talking global standards middle-class not African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Africa-specific one.
South Africa has several funds for entrepreneurs. The greatest thing is that they are segmented by factors like sector – for instance, a specialist agribusiness bank. We always thought having a blanket women entrepreneurs fund was not good. Every Kenyan woman has their specific set of challenges. South Africa also emphasizes loan facilitation where the government guarantees loans instead of giving you the money. Moreover, entrepreneurs are trained on business management to get the most out of support. In Kenya, we’re not sure if the entrepreneurs who take public funding face less risk of failure – we would love to know how they perform.
Name a better country than Germany. Actually don’t because there’s none. Germany’s economy is dominated by export-oriented small businesses. Funny story, during the global financial crisis in 2008, workers union and employers agreed to reduce work-time and salaries rather than lay-off workers in recovery efforts.
At the base of their success is an apprenticeship system – that we used to have. Government allows learning institutions and businesses to partner in imparting practical skills to students. You don’t get some degree, a Master’s degree, a professional certification (or two) at great cost and resort to carrying a banner of how you’re willing to do any job. This way they don’t go the Asian route of low-wage labor. They simply compete on quality and in high-barrier of entry sectors of the producers market (where things to make things are bought and sold). They also have programs like grants for research to ensure SMEs in the country remain competitive.0