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Search for Kenya’s top innovators begins

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Nation Media Group CEO, Mr Linus Gitahi. The Business Daily, has launched  “The Next Big Thing”, a competition targeting Kenyans with big entrepreneurial ideas but without the money to get them started.

Nation Media Group CEO, Mr Linus Gitahi. The Business Daily, has launched “The Next Big Thing”, a competition targeting Kenyans with big entrepreneurial ideas but without the money to get them started. 

By Mugambi Mutegi

Posted  Sunday, September 11  2011 at  22:00
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The Business Daily, a publication of the Nation Media Group, has launched an ideas competition that will discover Kenya’s top innovators and link them up with venture capitalists for financial and management backing they need to develop into profitable enterprises.

Known as “The Next Big Thing” the competition targets Kenyans with big entrepreneurial ideas, but without the money to get them started in the marketplace.

The Nation Media Group has teamed up with Kenyatta University — the knowledge partner and Enablis Africa — the logistics partner to execute the plan.

The contest is open to innovators from all parts of the country and will specifically target young entrepreneurs in high school, colleges and universities.
Innovators will submit entries to any of the 12 categories, including agribusiness, ICT, manufacturing, transport, tourism, green business and ecology, and energy.

Entries can also be made in sports, leisure and entertainment, health, transport as well as marketing.

Innovators can present only one idea for each category.

Submissions of entries opened last Friday and can be done on-line from the competition’s website www.nextbigthingbd.com.

Entries can also be e-mailed to thenextbigthing@ke.nationmedia.com, or dropped off at any Nation Media Group’s bureaus countrywide.

At close of the submissions, a panel of specialists will pick the best 20 ideas and present them to Kenyatta University’s (KU) incubation centre for training on how to package and present the ideas to potential financiers or mentors.

The five-member selection panel of made up of a banker, investors and an entrepreneur will choose the winning applications based on originality of the idea, its potential to change lives, commercial viability as well as a clear explanation of the skills required to implement it.

“Besides training the winners on how to commercialise their ideas, Kenyatta University will also help the innovators find financiers who are on the lookout for big ideas with good prospects for high returns on investment,” said Prof Olive Mugenda, the university’s vice chancellor.

Apart from linking the innovators to financiers and mentors, The Next Big Thing is the Nation Media Group’s contribution to the ongoing search for solutions that can help resolve Kenya’s top most social challenge — mass unemployment among the youth.

“Unemployment among the youth is estimated to be around 30 per cent in Kenya and it has become necessary for us to be part of the solution,” said Mr Linus Gitahi, the Nation Media Group chief executive.

“This initiative reaches out to Kenyans with viable ideas that can be nurtured and developed into becoming Kenya’s biggest corporations and exports to the world,” he said.

Mr Gitahi said the competition is open to participants from all universities and institutions countrywide.

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