The first ever Northern Kenya Impact investment conference took place at Safari park hotel with the aim of attracting investors in the region. The event was organised by the U.S Government’s Global Hunger & Food Security Initiative and Impact for Northern Kenya Fund. Other partners included United States Agency International Development (USAID), Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC), Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE), Open Capital, UNDP and ACDI VOCA. The one-day conference focused on the current state of investment in Northern Kenya, the potential and challenges of investing in the region.
The conference’s goal was to create a platform for present and potential investors and financial institutions to profile significant investors and share information on their financing performances and criteria. Among the dignitaries present were USAID Kuza and Impact for Northern Kenya Fund, Chief of Party Wyanie Bright, Samburu County Deputy Governor Julius Leseeto, Frontier Counties Development Council (FCDC) CEO Mohammed Guleid, KCIC Ag. CEO Ruth Ndegwa, ANDE East Africa Regional Director Rosemary Amondi.
USAID Kuza and Impact for Northern Kenya Fund, Chief of Party Wyanie Bright highlighted how the aid has channeled funds in the region and is accounting for the same through the monetary and evaluation objective. “We have provided training, capacity development and technical assistants to over 700 county officials and stakeholders in the Northern frontier counties. We do this to ensure that the people we are trusting with these resources can manage the resources well,” said Bright.
The conference also brought together MSMEs and public-private partnerships from the target counties. It provided them with opportunities to meet with potential investors and showcase their products and services in a push to help them build strategic business partnerships. The Northern frontier has been categorized into ten counties: Garissa, Lamu, Marsabit, Mandera, Tana River, Turkana, Wajir, West Pokot, Samburu, and Isiolo counties.
KCIC Ag. CEO, Ruth Ndegwa insisted on having a collaborative approach to create an enabling environment for the investments to thrive in the Northern region. “ We made a call for applications to incubate about 600 businesses across the country. We received about 15000 applications and out of this 9000 were from Northern Kenya. This is a testimony of the opportunities that exist in this region,” said Ruth. KCIC has been in the lead in supporting MSMEs in the northern region through mentorship, training and access to finance.
Northern Kenya has been known for negative publicity such as conflict, poverty, and drought over the years. The conference aimed to change this narrative and portray the Northern region as a place full of hope, potential and opportunities. Speaking during the event, Frontier counties Development Council CEO, Mohammed Guleid underscored the need to open up businesses in the region. “Most of the successful investments in Nairobi are owned by people from Northern Kenya. Unfortunately, these people don’t dare to go and invest back at home. It is time we took these investments home, my people,” he said.
The Northern frontier boasts of many opportunities that are still untapped. The conference brought to light the massive potential for investment in the region. It is the high time investors and stakeholders focused North and tapped into the available opportunities. This will counter the many challenges in the region, including poverty and propell positive contributions to the national GDP.