The 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) will be held in Nairobi this weekend. The sixth annual gathering of entrepreneurs at all stages of business development, the African location helps to underscore the fact that five of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies are on the African continent, including Cape Town, Lagos, and the host city for the summit, Nairobi.
Nicknamed “Silicone Savannah,” Nairobi is the location for major African headquarters for Google, Microsoft and IBM. Kenya has also been the leader in developing mobile money systems like mPesa that can be key to developing successful small enterprise. And when unrest shook the city after the disputed 2007 elections, Nairobi was the on-the-ground test of the crowdsourcing platform Ushahidi, which targets aid to survivors in disaster areas. But there are still obstacles for entrepreneurs to access the capital they need to be successful.
Launched by President Obama in 2009, the GES will bring together more than 1,000 entrepreneurs and investors from around the world to exchange ideas and work on economic innovation. There will also be a focus in Kenya on reaching women and youth with programs to encourage entreprenuership. The historic visit will make Obama the first sitting American president to visit Kenya, where he will underscore his commitment to making the US a partner in growth in African nations. He will be promoting deeper trade ties, economic development and efforts to resist the extremist factions that have plagued the region. In an interview with the BBC he was referring to giving opportunities to the youth when he said, “people are not interested in just being… patronized. And being given aid. They’re interested in building capacity.”
After his 2009 speech in Cairo, emphasizing the importance of entrepreneurship for development, Obama has played a major role in developing the meetings. A release from the White House described a US-Africa Leaders Summit held last year as laying the groundwork for raising $33 billion in commitments to support economic growth across Africa, improve security, promote good governance and provide opportunities for youth.