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Nairobi — Vusi Thembekwayo, one of Africa’s youngest, most sought after global speakers, venture capitalist, business leader and among the most successful entrepreneurs on the continent, is set to visit Kenya next month to engage with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the wake of COVID -19 pandemic that disrupted many businesses.
The 35 year old is the Key Note speaker of a three-day SME conference scheduled to take place on the 20th to 22nd April 2022 at the Movenpick Hotel.
The SMELink Conference has been organised by the SMELink International in partnership with the SME Founders Association.
It brings together all stakeholders in the SME sector in order to equip, empower and enable MSMEs to access business opportunities placing focus on youth and women-owned businesses to be part of the continental market equation.
“The Conference is part of our strategic objectives to connect 50 million SMEs to Money, Markets and Mentors by 2027 to foster creation of decent and sustainable jobs and reduction of poverty,” said PatricK Ojil Executive Director SME Link International.
“The conference will be the first in the partnership to inspire them to take action using proven techniques and tools as they connect to different stakeholders who can accelerate their businesses to scale. Subsequent conferences will take place in the REC of Africa to build an ecosystem of innovative and sustainable ventures,” he added.
Frida Owinga, President, SME Founders Association explained the value of targeting SMEs with sustainable solutions to help their businesses scale. “SMEs in Africa and across the globe form the largest contributors of employment and provide a source of income to the largest proportion of the population. SMEs also account for the majority of businesses worldwide and are important contributors to job creation and overall global economic development.”
“Additionally, SMEs contribute up to 40 percent of the GDP across emerging economies and 70 percent of employment opportunities are generated by SMEs in emerging markets. SMEs in Kenya are an underexploited resource with significant potential to boost inclusive growth,” she added.
During the conference, SMEs will be connected to opportunities within the Africa Continental Free Trade Area as well as global markets, there will also be discussions on advocating for digitized trade and networking mechanisms and the inclusion of Youth and Women.
Thembekwayo’s visit to Kenya is expected to attract his faithful VT community which he continuously inspires across his social media platforms. Like any underdog, Vusi started running a business at 21, and faced a myriad of challenges including sleeping in his car before gaining unprecedented success running a consulting firm, then South Africa’s only black-owned forensic marketing agency.
Four years later he would be the youngest director of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, a bourse turning over US$1.3 billion a year.
After exiting his advisory business, and making some angel investments, he moved into VC, through MyGrowthFund Venture Partners that has several funds, including a debt fund powered by several banks.
SMEs attending the conference will have the pleasure of listening to notable key speakers including Kris Senanu Chief Enterprise Business Officer, Safaricom, Andia Chakava, Founding Principal of AC AdvisoryDirector at the Graça Machel, Trust and founding Chairperson of New Faces New Voices Kenya chapter, Eric Osiakwan, Managing Partner, Chanzo Capital,Flora Mutahi Founder Melvin Marsh International, Samchi Group CEO Esther Muchemi, Geofrey Odundo CEO Nairobi Securities Exchange, David Osiany Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of Industrialization Trade and Enterprise Development as well as James Mureu Micro and Small Business Authority Board Chairman among others.
Key topics to be addressed include trade linkages, markets, opportunities at the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), trade requirements to foster friendly relations with regulators, funding, business scaling among others.
There will also be pitching sessions for SMEs dubbed Rhino’s Den where Sh100 million will be up for grabs for solid pitches.
Subsequent conferences will take place in Africa’s Key Markets as well as the rest of the world that include United Arab Emirates, Asia, Europe and the United States of America.