Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Kenya Elections: Violence And Entrepreneurial Dreams

Violence brought about by the elections in Kenya has stymied—but not stopped—an inspiring story of entrepreneurial innovation and spirit. Kenya’s Youth Ministry was holding a business plan competition to inspire and support entrepreneurs and create new businesses. From an initial 5,000 participants, the best 100 were chosen for further training and judging. Kenya recognized the need for new businesses and the benefits that they bring to the economy. Some experts estimate that for every one person who receives work in Africa, 10 others will have food, clothing, shelter, school fees and other necessities. Unfortunately, six weeks after the competition began, so did the horrific violence which has claimed over a thousand lives and displaced hundreds of thousands.

But now the entrepreneur competition has brought about a new life, and there is a film already being made about the events which have taken place. The film is called “Kenya Stories”, and it was originally intended to be a simple documentary about the competition, but it has now become something much more important. On their website, they discuss the film and the 100 top entrepreneurs in greater depth. Their goal is to generate interest in what is happening right now in Kenya, tell more about these aspiring entrepreneurs, and hopefully create support for the cause. They are looking for mentors, angel investors, referral business, networking help, donations and so on.

In the midst of such tragedy, it is truly inspiring to see how people can rise up. I wish the very best for each of these entrepreneurs, and hopefully we will witness their business plans come to fruition someday. I also wish the best for the “Kenya Stories” film team, and I can’t wait to see the finished product.

For more background information on the violence in Kenya, read The New York Times’ article.

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