US Ambassador Whitman urges gov’t and big companies to support young entrepreneurs

US Ambasador to Kenya Meg Whitman at Close the Gap Circular Economy Hub in Jomvu sub-county./COURTESY

United States Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman has called on governments and big companies to support young entrepreneurs.

Speaking during an engagement forum with young entrepreneurs from Mombasa at the Swahilipot Hub in Mombasa County, the US Ambassador to Kenya urged governments and big companies to invest in young entrepreneurs and innovators.

“Being an entrepreneur is very hard and one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs and startups face is financing. For startups to be successful, they need to have working capital, they need to have some money to make some investment for them to make money and often that is the hardest thing to do,” said Whitman.

Speaking to the young entrepreneurs, Amb. Whitman advised the youth to not shy away from approaching big companies to seek financial assistance.


“Go to the big companies in Kenya, whether they are American, French, German, Middle Eastern, or even Kenyan companies, to get them to give you financing from their Foundations or just their business, to enable concessional financing,” said the Ambassador.

“The government should be helpful here, maybe put together a list of top 20 companies that operate in and around Mombasa and come up with a specific amount to support young companies,” she added.

Whitman was addressing startups and young entrepreneurs from the Mombasa Plastics Prize Challenge which brought together youth from around Mombasa County in a competition to come up with ideas to combat plastic waste in the informal sector.

During her two-day trip to Mombasa, Whitman also encouraged startups to approach Non-Governmental Organizations for financial and mentorship support.

USAID does a lot of work in Kenya around empowering entrepreneurs. It is USAID that has done this Plastics Prize and I have just met the entrepreneurs who won the prize. They are making plastics into school furniture, so these are the kinds of things that we help support,” she said.

The MPP is now in its second phase which is the incubator phase which was launched in early October.

The second phase will see nine teams from the first phase; including the three winners, get mentorship to bring their projects to fruition.

This phase will support the growth of young entrepreneurs to tackle plastic marine waste in Mombasa County.

The teams will benefit from financial support and training, including mentoring, coaching, and training provided by expert partners from across Mombasa County.

The teams selected to participate will formalize their businesses and establish their operational structure, refine their business ideas to generate sustainable and viable business plans, establish partnerships with the innovation ecosystem, and monitor and evaluate the impact of their solution on marine plastic waste pollution.

Her visit to Mombasa included a visit to Governor Abdullswamad Sheriff Nassir’s office, a meeting with the MPP winners, a visit to the Kenya Ports Authority, and EPZ and SEZ visit along with the Japanese Ambassador Okaniwa Ken.

Whitman also visited Close the Gap International facility in Jomvu sub-county.