biashara centres
Photo: UNDP Kenya

County biashara centres a good step forward for entrepreneurs

There have been persistent calls for Kenyan Counties to get their act together and create environments for entrepreneurship to take off. This has arguably begun.

One of the arguments for this devolved system of Governance is that it would solve marginalization. It would also contribute towards a more politically mature Kenya. This makes sense. Voters would have to question why their neighboring counties undergo development while their own did not.

Only five years into the devolved system of government and we have already seen this at play. At national politics level, people have rallied behind the same clique, of characters, for a quarter of a century. In August, 2017, already, 25 Governors were sent home.

Challenges entrepreneurs face in the Counties

One area which has caused friction between Kenyan Counties and their voters is the need of the former to raise revenue against the latter’s need for good business environment.

It is good to see that county administrations are slowly realizing that enabling more entrepreneurs to come online (apology for using corporate lingo) is a smarter way to raise revenue than over-burdening those already active.


What they have needed instead, all this time, is a one-stop-shop for business development services. It would enable them to only improve on their trade but also create a platform for them to network and form associations, linkages and partnerships.

Kenyan Counties Biashara Centres

This prayer is now being answered by the County Biashara Centres. These centres are a brainchild of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and have backing of a number of Government Ministries and Bodies –including the Micro and Small Enterprises Authority.

UNDP launched its County Business Development Centres agenda in 2014. And has a goal to open 20 County Biashara Centres by 2018. This is a boon for entrepreneurs, more so, women entrepreneurs in Kenya who face additional unique challenges.

The centres are expected to shift from the need for public support in future. But, presently, they will be a great means of aligning national government policy, county government priority and needs of Kenyan counties entrepreneurs. UNDP promised that there would be a focus on women and youth entrepreneurs.

Three already open

The Kenyan counties biashara centres have listed a selection of the services they will offer. These include:

  • A platform for forums that will act in place of association (for lobbying)
  • Centre for relevant information for entrepreneurs regarding opportunity, market, best practices, etc.
  • Vocational training to upskill entrepreneurs (corporate lingo, again)
  • Links to sources of finance, including investors residing in the counties
  • Business promotion events to help market wares – you need to read this

So far, three UNDP County Business Development Centres have been opened. In one of the centres, an individual narrated how he has come to realize that the opportunities for business are aplenty in the counties. And that he had to leave Nairobi and go back home.

This was in Marsabit, where the centre was opened in June 2016. Two other centres in Taita Taveta County and in Kwale County have opened doors to entrepreneurs, at the moment of this writing. All entrepreneurs are welcomed.