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Fresh start for young entrepreneurs after Westgate tragedy

By James Wanzala | Published Fri, October 9th 2015 at 00:00, Updated October 8th 2015 at 22:30 GMT +3

Just as the country marked the second anniversary of the September Westgate Mall terror attack, 23 young people graduated from the first phase of an 18-month entrepreneurship programme started by the Mbugua Rosemary Foundation (MRF).

MRF was started in memory of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s nephew Mbugua Mwangi and his fiancée, Rosemary Wahito, who died in the attack. It trains and mentors young entrepreneurs with the potential to transform industries.

Speaking during the graduation ceremony, MRF Chairman Bill Lay said: “This programme aims to foster young entrepreneurs who have the same spirit Mbugua and Rosemary had, and help them achieve their dreams through skills transfer and mentorship.”

The foundation’s Young Entrepreneurs Programme provides training tailored for young entrepreneurs, as well as a link to existing businesses and business owners for networking and partnership opportunities.

The programme also aims to nurture creativity and develop participants into socially responsible business leaders and entrepreneurs to support the economy.

It selects individuals whose businesses are less than three years, or who have solid business ideas ready for execution.

“Research shows that the first five years of a business determine its success rate, and we know that many young, bright, innovative entrepreneurs lack not only key basic skills, but also business mentoring that will ensure their businesses have a not-so-rough beginning,” Angela Kasili, the programme’s co-ordinator, said.

“Such skills include knowing your market, getting funding to take your businesses to the next level, book-keeping and basic financial management and strategic planning. We have, therefore, decided to focus on this target group.”

After six months of basic training, the programme monitors, supports and sets up partnership opportunities for its participants for another 12 months through regular networking meetings with business leaders.