Following in the wake of President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Kenya for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), Dan Freeman and Julie Frieswyk from the University of Delaware’s Horn Program in Entrepreneurship visited Kenya where they work in partnership with Wilmington-based StartupAfrica to provide educational opportunities and encourage youth entrepreneurship there and in other East African nations.
Erastus Mong’are, executive director of StartupAfrica, hosted program director Freeman and program coordinator Frieswyk in their travels to four counties throughout Kenya to visit students who participated in the Horn Program’s Diamond Challenge for High School Entrepreneurs.
There they learned about the students’ exciting projects in areas like energy, security, agriculture and marketing, and saw firsthand how these projects are producing positive tangible benefits in their lives and communities.
“When we created the Diamond Challenge, I knew it would make a big difference,” Freeman said. “But I had no idea about the incredible magnitude of its impact.”
Mong’are agreed, noting that having the Horn team in Kenya made a big difference to the participating teachers. “They got to understand exactly what the Diamond Challenge is and why entrepreneurship is important, not just for them as teachers but also for their students.”
The impact is particularly evident in Kenya’s Nyandarua County, home to a team of young women from Shamata Girls School who won the second place prize in the 2015 Diamond Challenge, which concluded in April.
Jackline Ndungu, Elizabeth Ngure, Margaret Gitau, Margaret Njunguna and team adviser David Njogu created a concept to solve the agribusiness problem of low profits leading to food shortages and slow economic growth. The Shamata team designed viable methods for processing crops like potatoes into more valuable food products like potato flour.
After this concept captured the Diamond Challenge prize in 2015, Nyandura County embraced it and has provided support to the winning team in various capacities. This year, the team presented their idea at the Global Economic Expo and they are continuing to build on the initial project.
Nyandura County was also the chosen location for a teacher training session that Freeman and Frieswyk led in collaboration with StartUP Africa during their visit. The training included over 130 teachers from five Kenyan counties.
Based on feedback Mong’are received following the training, the teachers were delighted with the results. “Teachers reached out to us just to say thank you and express their gratitude for the training, saying how beneficial it was for them to understand exactly what the initiative is about, and how they are now prepared to best assist their students going forward.”
“There is a huge thirst for entrepreneurship education in Kenya,” said Frieswyk. “Community leaders, politicians and teachers connect it to hope for their youth.”
Published By Delaware