What challenges are facing social entrepreneurs in Kenya?
That’s what we tried to find out in Nairobi a few weeks back. Whilst many social entrepreneurs were at the Sankalp Africa Summit 2019, Finding Impact was joined by Bethnal Green Ventures, with support from the British High Commission in Kenya, to deliver a workshop aimed at understanding the challenges facing social entrepreneurs in Kenya.
The event was specifically timed to speak to those local entrepreneurs who are not already tapped into the right networks and relationships that Sankalp offers. Not being tapped into the right networks and relationships is holding local founders back from accessing foreign impact capital, according to a recent interview with Andreas Zeller of Open Capital Advisors and a study from Global Accelerator Learning Initiative (GALI).
Despite a number of hubs and accelerators providing vital support and research for startups in the social entrepreneurship ecosystem, the space still seems largely fragmented. We wanted to bring a workshop to 30 Kenyan social entrepreneurs – all driven to build businesses that change their communities for the better – to connect with each other and provide the scope to explore some of the common challenges they are faced with.
We gathered a fantastic group of entrepreneurs and challenged them to challenge each other using a range of liberating structures and open space methods. Ahead of the event we gathered input from the participants as to what the three key challenges they experienced in getting their businesses off the ground.
Below is a rough overview of the key insights into the challenges:
- Lack of funding for:
- implementing changes from pilots
- seed grants
- scale up
- building the team
- Finding early stage capital in an already highly competitive market
|Talent and skills
- Finding and retaining talent, particularly developers
- Financial management
- High costs of hiring talent
- Finding the right team – people bought into the mission
|Business support & community
- Lack of mentors and peer group
- Lack of strategic networks
- Lack of government support in accessing funding, and sorting the relevant legal documentation
- High taxes
|Reaching your market
- Marketing using the platforms that their target customer uses
- Finding and onboarding strategic partners
- Standing out in a crowded market
- Large scale behavioural change
- Tech not widely adopted
- Imbalance in funding various industries
- Measuring impact of work
- Revenue model to make it a profitable business for both the company and its users
The list is not exhaustive and only provides a rough snapshot of the challenges.
Following a brief overview, we continued with a scoping exercise, a simple canvas to draw on the experiences in the room and collectively brainstorm ideas to overcome some of the challenges. Whilst there are no hard-and-fast answers, the group came up with some interesting approaches and a wealth of resources that will help them take action when they get back to their businesses.
Feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive, with the interactive sessions giving the most value by far. The majority called for a longer, more frequent events, as opposed to a one off for just a few hours, maybe with guest speakers and investors to network with afterwards.
Considering online content from Finding Impact to help them on their social entrepreneurship journey, content was preferred via the following channels:
Note: the first 5 channels were given as suggestions, which skewed results.
One central takeaway for us is that creating a physical space for entrepreneurs to come together and collaborate is in huge demand and quite frankly incredible fun! But it has moved us closer to our goal of facilitating more connectivity between social entrepreneurs in Kenya. It might be only the first step in building a thriving ecosystem for social entrepreneurs but we’re excited to see what follows. Thanks to the British High Commission in Kenya for helping make this event happen, and Bethnal Green Ventures to lending their expertise in facilitating local social entrepreneur meetups.
For more information, reach out to Andy Narracott using the contact form