Nakuru county government is crafting friendly policies for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises that will assist youths to patent their creative ideas and help them partner with like-minded industrialists to commercialize their talents.
County Executive Committee Member (CECM) in charge of Youth, Gender, Culture, Sports and Social Services Josephine Atieno Achieng said they were encouraging youths to embrace the value of innovation and entrepreneurship as a means of creating employment.
This, she added, is through creating a conducive environment in which innovations could be developed to spur the entrepreneurial spirit.
“We are committed to providing a platform for our young and creative innovators to showcase their transformational ideas and ventures and linking them with industry captains and investors who can put money in the startups in exchange for equity,” stated Ms Achieng.
She said that youth must be empowered and encouraged to exploit their talents and seek to provide solutions to the ever-present challenges facing the country including unemployment, food security, national security and health among others.
Ms Achieng pointed out that locally engineered solutions are likely to be more affordable compared to imported ones adding that local solutions ensure there is skill and knowledge retention for the local people, as opposed to an imported solution that will never let Kenyans have control of what they sell.
“Our youths must be empowered with skills geared on shifting their mindsets from job seekers to job creators and owners of capital,” said the CECM.
She said this initiative would not only benefit the country in solving unemployment but would also strategically place organizations to meet the ever-growing changes in customer preferences and to gain competitive advantage, as well as develop products for the future.
Ms Achieng was speaking in Nakuru when she inaugurated a two-day training program for 40 young innovators from various fields at the County headquarters.
The event was jointly organized by the Centre of Excellence for Livestock Innovation and Business’s (COELIB), Midrift Hurinet, American Corner, Peace Corps, Nakuru Box Ajiry Innovation Center, United Bank for Africa Kenya Limited, Coca-Cola, Social Changes network and Equity Bank.
Ms Achieng observed that the county government was determined to create a conducive environment for innovations and business growth through friendly policies to ensure a well-developed, innovation-driven entrepreneurship ecosystem among the youthful population.
“We must be deliberate in encouraging our young people to proactively take up new risks in entrepreneurship. The journey may be rough but certainly has a reward for the courageous ones,” advised Ms Achieng.
The CECM further said that Governor Susan Kihika’s administration was working closely with the national government to provide heavy investments in supportive infrastructures such as high-speed internet, road networks, electricity connections, Ajira Youth Empowerment Centers and high quality basic and tertiary education.
As the country works towards becoming a middle-income economy through implementing Vision 2030, Ms Achieng argued that it was imperative that the country addresses the rising youth unemployment rates by embracing local talent and creative knowledge.
She said one of the key areas that remained underutilized was the adoption of local technological innovations by public and private sector in the country.
County Director for Youth Affairs Mr Josphat Kimemia observed that Kenya has established itself as a regional giant in innovation, and is touted as Africa’s Silicon Savannah but indicated that there is a need for policies that will assist the youth to not only patent ideas, but be encouraged to partner with like-minded industrialists to commercialize the same.
Mr Kimemia explained that the inventor’s role in the creativity is to create a win-win situation where the owner gains monopoly over the invention for a limited period, while the public benefits from it before the protection period expires.
The Director observed that an inventor with difficulties in meeting the technical demands of drafting a successful application requires guidance.
He added that patent drafting, a very rare skill in Kenya, is a critical area that should be grown to produce qualified professionals to advise and assist in the applications.
According to the Global Index 2017, Kenya is among 17 middle and lower-income economies that perform significantly better on innovation despite limited state support.
A significant majority of these innovations are said to be youth led meaning there is so much potential for Kenyan youth to innovate and provide solutions to the problems affecting all the sectors of the economy.
Kenya has also been affiliated to the World intellectual Property Organisation since 1971.
Four bodies are mandated to deal with intellectual property protection: Kipi, Kenya Copyright Board (Kecobo), Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (Kephis) and Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA).
The number of patents has always been used as a measure of knowledge transfer but one of the constraints in Kenya is the weak Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) culture.
By Esther Mwangi and Angela Cherotich