Launching Believe Begin Become: Kenya's Exciting Business Plan Competition to Uniquely Empower up to 10,000 Kenyan Youth

NAIROBI, KENYA, APRIL 12, 2007 —The Ministry of State for Youth Affairs (MOYA) and TechnoServe/Kenya officially launch the first annual Believe Begin Become (BBB) Business Plan Competition in Kenya on 12 April 2007. The celebration, hosted at the MOYA offices in the Board Room on the 3rd Floor of Ken Com House, begins at 10:00 a.m. This date also marks the availability of applications at Post Bank and Youth Development Offices locations country-wide. Or they can be downloaded from www.believe-begin-become.com. From 28 April through 31 May, youth will be invited through radio and TV ads to 23 locations where fun one-day workshops will offer guidance on completing the application, some training on developing business plans, AND entertainment from local musicians.

12 April 2007 Believe Begin Become Launch Attendees Expected
Speakers:
1. Ministry of State for Youth Affairs: Minister and P.S.
2. TechnoServe Kenya: Country Director

Sponsors & Other Distinguished Representatives:
1. BBB Operating Committee
2. Representative from the Competition's Main Sponsor: Kenya Pipeline Company
3. TechnoServe/Kenya: Wamuyu Mahinda, BBB Program Manager

Who is Eligible for Believe Begin Become Participation?
TechnoServe/Kenya and the Ministry of State for Youth Affairs in partnership with key sponsors such as Kenya Pipeline Company, Lenovo, and Kenya Commercial Bank are seeking Kenyan youth between the ages of 18 and 35 who have an entrepreneurial spirit and an idea to create or expand a business. Individuals from disadvantaged communities including young women and rural individuals are especially encouraged to apply.

All who pay 100 Ksh. and submit completed registration and application forms by 31st May will be considered eligible for the first review by judges from private, education, and government sectors. These panels of judges will select 300 entrepreneurs from among the anticipated 8,000 qualified applications. The 300 will receive intensive training to develop their own business plan; participate in a series of activities to stimulate and celebrate entrepreneurship; find support to set up or grow businesses; and be honored in graduation ceremonies in 8 locations. The top 100 will compete for cash for the most promising businesses.

Major (Rtd.) Kinuthia N. Murugu, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of State for Youth Affairs said, "The 'Fresh Ministry' is fully behind this national youth business plan competition. It will catalyze young people to create new business ideas, receive high quality business training, and help qualify them for support from the Youth Development Fund. Our youth can no longer wait for employment, for handouts, for their future to begin. They must seize this great opportunity to create their own future."

What Are Believe Begin Become Competitions?
TechnoServe has long been focused on building Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and through them, networking small rural farmers and producers to larger markets, in turn creating revenue and employment. TechnoServe Kenya is collaborating with the Ministry of State for Youth Affairs to help fill the gap in SME capabilities by kicking off the first annual Kenya business plan competition. Starting in El Salvador in 2002, TechnoServe has expanded to 10 national Believe Begin Become business plan competitions in Central America and Africa to identify and develop entrepreneurs and thus broaden the foundation for economic growth. The events offer incentives, practical training, and business development support to help fledgling entrepreneurs convert ideas into implementable, fundable business plans, leading to sustainable enterprises. Please see the Media Backgrounder for Believe Begin Become details on application, qualification, etc.

Kenya Urgently Needs Entrepreneurship Development— Especially for Youth
The Ministry of State for Youth Affairs, TechnoServe, and Kenya Pipeline Company are joined by Lenovo, Kenya Commercial Bank, and Post Bank, among others, because we believe that chronic youth employment can and must be changed. Overall 23% of Kenyans are unemployed without counting those no longer seeking formal employment. However, youth between the ages of 15-19 suffer the most, accounting for 33% of all unemployed Kenyans even though they constitute only 23% of 15-64 year olds.(1) Current organizations cannot absorb the more than 240,000 primary school plus an additional 143,000 high school graduates who annually enter the labor force. So youth must create their own employment.

Believe Begin Become to Address Obstacles to Entrepreneurship
The Believe Begin Become Business Plan Competitions in Ghana, Swaziland, and in Latin America have already proven effective in developing entrepreneurship skills and hundreds of new businesses. Through its high visibility, the Kenyan BBB competition will build momentum for SME development, celebrate entrepreneurship and spur government to build truly an enabling environment. Believe Begin Become will also help SMEs to access capital via the Youth Development Fund and other local financial institutions. Finally TechnoServe's BBB project office will collaborate with local delivery partners, financial institutions, corporates and universities to ensure that ALL applicants will be equipped with basic training to help create successful businesses. Believe Begin Become will inspire Kenyans to grasp their economic future in their own, capable hands.

(1) 1999 Population and Housing Census, Volume 1: Central Bureau of Statistics; Labour Force Survey, 1999

Download background information here:

Backgrounder on Kenya's 1st National Believe Begin Become business plan competition (PDF)
Backgrounder on Kenya's Urgent Need for Youth EntrepReneurship Development (PDF)
About TechnoServe: TechnoServe helps entrepreneurial men and women in the developing world to build businesses that provide jobs, income and economic opportunity. Since its founding in 1968, the U.S.-based nonprofit has helped to create or improve more than 2,000 businesses, benefiting millions of people in 32 countries. TechnoServe is currently working to build and expand businesses in Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Swaziland, Uganda, Ghana, Madagascar, Rwanda, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Côte d'Ivoire and India. TechnoServe has been recognized as one of the world's "Outstanding Social Entrepreneurs" by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.