According to Vimal Shah, CEO of BIDCO Africa and Chairman of KEPSA, the internet and technological advancement are not the landmark innovations of the 21st century. Making money and creating job opportunities off this- entrepreneurs- is. The business magnate and renowned entrepreneur made this assertion at the 25 under 25 awards gala ceremony where he was chief guest, an honor he modestly tried to brush off, saying it felt ironical awarding 25 year olds whilst he received his first award at 40. But 40 or 19, Mr. Shah, estimated to be worth $1.6 billion by Forbes, is a force to reckon with in the business world.
The ceremony, also graced by Smruti Patel – Leadership Coach, George Waititu – Owner of Tafaria Castle and Country Lodge, Evans Wadongo- Co-Founder of Greenwize Energy LTD, was to award twenty five youth entrepreneurs and leaders whose work had made an impact in their community just in time for Obama’s address for the GES 2015Conference. Mr. Shah’s had plenty of advice to the youth;
He called out the many graduates who were out on the streets job hunting to become job creators to the ever increasing population.
“Our biggest challenge, which can also be seen as our biggest opportunity, is our demographics. There are at least one million people leaving school every year, all looking for jobs. On the other hand, the private sector is creating approximately two hundred thousand job opportunities every year leaving a total of eight hundred thousand people scrambling for government jobs,” Shah pointed out.
Instead of looking at the increasing population as their bane, the youth should capitalize on the increased market and labour pool and think of products to avail.
He also had ideas for the youth to invest in and he did not downplay traditional such as Agriculture. He cited it as being still very viable and profitable venture.
Kenya for starters has such great weather. We do not have extreme temperatures, we are around the equator and we have great soils for agriculture. We have plenty of water as well as the capacity to invest in agribusinesses,” he said.
He urged them to look around as the opportunities were endless. One only need identify whatever is imported and think of ways on how to produce it locally. He pointed out manufacturing and security provision among others as major cash cows.
On lack of capital
He also challenged the many entrepreneurs who were moaning over lack of capital to start their business. According to Mr. Shah, a good idea will always get capital. He told them not to go walking around with half baked business ideas then expect funding.
“So many aspiring entrepreneurs claim to have excellent business ideas but cannot pursue them because of lack of capital, yet they have not packaged those ideas. They have not done their market research, neither have they done they book keeping to know how much they need nor do they even know their products inside out,” he lamented.
What with the GES Summit bringing with it thousands of entrepreneurs and the many government initiatives, how could they complain about lack of opportunities for funding?
He wound up his talk by challenging upcoming entrepreneurs to work harder than they were doing as it their responsibility to create jobs, transform their societies and solve global problems. However, he was quick to remind them not to put in the extra hours for the money because it would not come over night.