The Startup Summit Kenya at the Kenya Innovation Week 2021 took off in high spirits with a keen discussion of the startup bill that was proposed by the Senate on 14 September 2020. The bill intends to govern the interactions between the government, incubators, start-ups, and investors; to foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship; and crucially, link start-ups with public and private investment, and research and development institutions. Mr. Oswald Guobadia from the Office of the President in Nigeria appreciated the move to have the startup bill and attested to the major impact that a similar bill brought to the innovation ecosystem in Nigeria.
The bill is expected to bring better results considering that despite the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic the startup ecosystem in Kenya has been flourishing. According to Kenneth Gathuma of the Business Registration Services, 150,000 new businesses were registered in the last financial year. This he attributed to the changes and new policies that the government had put out to ease the registration process. Some of the moves mentioned included the move by Nairobi County where once new businesses are registered they receive a single business permit waiver for the first 24 months
Feedback from the summit attendees revealed that innovators felt that the fees and charges levied on them as they register their businesses were excess. Kenneth Gathuma assured innovators that current charges of Ksh 10,000 is as fair deal as previously entrepreneurs were charge based on the share capital which would have been more costly.
A panel discussing county support to startups emphasized the importance support of startups in the county level. George Wayne, CEO Nakuru Gearbox outlined the strides that the Nakuru County government was taking in reaching out to innovators and empowering them through the innovation center, he further urged county governments to prepare for the disruption that is coming from startups and its best if they support innovators by defining the structures.
James Odede, of LakeHub, brought to the attention of attendees of the importance of impacting skills to innovators because they might be good with innovators but other critical skills are important if their innovations are to scale.
In another panel on the enabling environment for startups the business registration process took the center stage. Hon. Elizabeth Tanui, Deputy Registrar Commercial and Tax division of the Judiciary informed the summit that in the past year the small claims court solved 2000 out of 3600 cases. She then outlined the plans to decentralize the small claims court to counties and other parts of Nairobi to ensure it possible for cases to be solved within 60 days as is expected.