The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) has called on the County Government of Mombasa to work closely with private sector players to increase investments in social entrepreneurship.
During an Intergenerational Forum held in Mombasa on Monday funded by the French Embassy in Kenya and Somalia, various stakeholders identified social entrepreneurship as a feasible solution to the County’s high unemployment rates.
“About 47% of our youth need more reliable jobs. It, therefore, gives me great pride to realize that partners are working tirelessly on business programs and initiatives to improve the business environment and the economic welfare of Mombasa residents and Kenyans. My department will continue working with all stakeholders to create more opportunities for the youth and women through all avenues, including the immense potential of our cultural heritage,” said Mohammed Osman, the CECM for the Department of Tourism, Culture, and Trade, Mombasa County Government.
His sentiments were echoed by Dr. Emmanuel Nzai, the CEO of Jumuiya ya Kaunti za Pwani, noting KEPSA’s efforts in addressing social issues to improve the business environment at county levels through enterprise development and productivity, education, youth, women, and gender empowerment.
“As we engage these entrepreneurs, we must understand the different ways of communicating with the Coastal people, mainly through culture. This is how you connect, help them understand the goal, and collectively move towards that goal,” he said.
In Mombasa, more youth and women are venturing into social enterprising, especially in the arts and creative industries, waste management, manufacturing, and services. They identify gaps in traditional systems and develop creative solutions to bridge them, tackling problems such as poverty, access to education, healthcare, and environmental sustainability using innovative approaches.
“We aim to enrich the entrepreneurial women and youth of Mombasa County with skills to help them become self-reliant and simultaneously create employment opportunities through sustainable trade,” said Mr. Hassan Musa, the Kenya Red Cross Society Coast Regional Manager.
Social entrepreneurship plays a significant role in youth and women empowerment, making it an increasingly important space to explore, particularly for those often on the sidelines of the formal economy.
“It provides an opportunity to deliver products and services for social issues affecting local communities and offers flexibility and independence that formal employment may not provide,”noted Mohammed Hersi, the Group Director of Operations at Pollmans Tour and Safaris Limited, represented by Mr. Julius Owino, CEO of the Kenya Coast Tourism Association.
However, many challenges hinder scaling efforts for most young social entrepreneurs in Mombasa and beyond. These include a lack of resources and experience, little mentorship from the pioneers, lack of access to funding, and sometimes, a reluctance from the formal business sector to support their enterprises. The private sector is, therefore, crucial in unlocking innovative solutions, fostering economic growth, and creating a positive social impact that benefits all.
“It is our responsibility as the private sector to intensify efforts and investments towards empowering the younger entrepreneurs and bridging the unemployment gap in Kenya. Let us provide access to networks and opportunities, mentorship, and expertise in marketing, logistics, and operations to help them navigate the entrepreneurship landscape,” emphasized Josephine Wawira, the Communications Lead at KEPSA.
The forum is one of several ongoing initiatives by the private sector apex body through SIB-K to empower social entrepreneurs to scale their impact and make a meaningful difference on a larger scale. On Saturday, the 29th of July, KEPSA hosted a Career Fair to connect university students, youth, and women with potential employers in social entrepreneurship.
In his address during the Fair, Mr. Kenneth Ambani, the CECM at the Department of Public Administration, Youth, and Social Services Mombasa County, commended the young entrepreneurs for being the driving force of change, the pioneers of innovation, and the catalysts for a more inclusive and equitable world.
“To our youth, I encourage you to dream big and seize every opportunity that comes your way. Embrace the challenges, learn from failures, and never lose sight of your vision to make a positive change. Your passion and determination will be the driving force shaping our community’s future. This career fair is just beginning your journey into social entrepreneurship.”
He further encouraged the women saying,“I want to emphasize that your voices, ideas, and leadership are invaluable. We recognize the immense potential within you and are dedicated to breaking down barriers and providing equal opportunities. Let this career fair be a platform where you feel empowered to share your vision for a better Mombasa and beyond.”
For the next five months, KEPSA has committed to also work closely with different industry leaders to handhold about ten social entrepreneurs, mentoring them as they navigate the journey of scaling their businesses.
Other speakers in the Monday forum included Arnaud Dupuis, the Project Officer of FSPI, Embassy of France in Kenya and Somalia; Ms. Priyanka Patel, Innovation Manager, Kenya Red Cross Society – Mombasa Chapter; Mrs. Rose Kebati Ssali, the Chief Operating Officer at Lafarge Ecosystems; Ms. Lorraine Osiany, the Head of Sustainability and Partnerships at TakaTaka ni Mali; and Mr. Alex Kubasu, Programme Coordinator of the Circular Economy Initiative at WWF-Kenya.