The 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) was held in Nairobi, Kenya, on July 25-26. Launched by President Obama in 2009, the GES brings together entrepreneurs and investors from across Africa and around the world annually to showcase innovative projects, exchange new ideas, and help spur economic opportunity.
“We are joined today by inspiring entrepreneurs for more than 120 countries and many from across Africa, and all of you embody the spirit that we need to take on some of the biggest challenges that we face in the world,” said President Obama during the GES. “The spirit of entrepreneurship, the idea that there are no limits to the human imagination.”
The sixth annual GES agenda focused on generating new investments for entrepreneurs, with a particular focus on women and youth. President Obama proudly announced that they surpassed their goal, from last year, by securing more than one billion dollars in new investments for emerging entrepreneurs around the world with half the money going to support women and young people.
More than 1,000 attendees were present during the 3-day summit, most of who wanted to discuss the hotbed topic of funding.
“If you had the money, would you invest in your business?” asked Parminder Vir, CEO of the Tony Elumelu Foundation when challenging entrepreneurs. “What would be the criteria you would use to make sure that you got returns on your investment?”
She added that she believes there is no shortage of capital but a shortage of investable opportunities.
“It’s not necessarily about having those international investors come in, we can actually look at building our local businesses from the support of all financial institutions that are local,” said Alex Nyaga, CEO of Parapet Cleaning Services who attend GES.
With the numerous amounts of obstacles that plague business owners, executing their business idea is normally at the top of the list. GES attendee Brian Chesky, founder of Airbnb discussed the importance of community for entrepreneurs.
“Entrepreneurs are uniquely talented and capable without any resources, maybe without any money and you’ll find a way to make it work,” he said. “But the thing that many people don’t talk about is a lot of those entrepreneurs had mentors or people that have helped them along the way.” He added that the biggest barrier is fear, and said that being surrounded by other entrepreneurs would help eliminate the trepidation many entrepreneurs face.
This is the first time the GES has taken place in sub-Saharan Africa and one local entrepreneur had a few important takeaways from the summit.
“We don’t need to criminalize failing— failing is the process of success,” Eric Kinoti, founder and director of Shade Systems explained. “I’m really, really inspired and motivated to do more.”