Photo: Open Source

Entrepreneurship and value creation in Kenya

There’s wide-reaching consensus on the gains of entrepreneurship in Kenya. Even so, a lot of refining and redefining is needed to realize the potential of enterprising Kenyans. We need to grasp the concepts of wealth and value creation.

Entrepreneurship creates value and wealth. It’s known, though, that wealth is demonized in Kenya. It is perceived that wealth can only be acquired through thievery or that acquiring it is a zero-sum game. This desperate mindset, among other factors, has perpetuated our culture of corruption.

You can’t blame those who think this way though. Any conversation on the wealthiest Kenyans will reveal a lot about our country. You’ll quickly notice how a majority are tied in some form or another to the political class. You will also acknowledge that few of them have created value with great multiplied effects to the rest of society.

It’s funny because creating wealth and value is a simple and very old concept. We find this right here in Kenya, where some of the oldest human fossils are found.

A long time ago, some people decided to take stones and carve tools out of them. This was a true, first, form of value or wealth created. Using these tools they scrapped barks and roots for more novelty products. They also created new stuff out of animal hides. All these compounded to the device you are reading this through.


Many years later, we as a country export an assortment of crops for sustenance. We have not grasped and appreciated the benefits of making things. For entrepreneurship to be realized to full potential empowerment must be given to this way of doing things.

Too much capital is still held up in safe sectors like real estate and retail. There is also a danger creeping of shifting to tertiary industry while yet to master the secondary.

An analysis of countries (the Asians, it’s always the Asians) that have made serious inroads in ending poverty shows the conclusion is true. They tapped into entrepreneurship from the rudimentary level. They graduated from the entrepreneurs adding value to agricultural products to the revolutionary light manufacturing sector.


This is also visible in the double standard of reputation. Switzerland is known for Chocolate yet it is Ghana that grows Cocoa. The same is true for us. English tea drinking culture is lauded yet it is Kenya that is a tea producing giant. Or how Mombasa is a tourist city but will never have the same number of visitors as London.

We are not entirely on the wrong path in this regard. You can leave a supermarket with bags full of Kenyan-made products only. This is where the focus on entrepreneurship needs to shift. Entrepreneurs need to be encouraged to take on these riskier ventures through role models and appropriate business environments.

The richest people should no longer be land speculators or those putting up gated communities on prime farm land. This shift in mentality will bring about work ethic and inventiveness.