High expectations for forum from founder of construction SME

Gertrude Kurgat

Aged just 24, Gertrude Kurgat and Linda Rotich are among Kenya’s youngest female entrepreneurs in the booming construction field. Their entrepreneurial spirit has seen them make commendable forays in a sector dominated by companies with deep pockets.

Already, just one year in, the young graduates’ firm, Orchid East Africa Ltd, has been sub-contracted to supply construction materials for several ongoing private and public sector projects, and is pre-qualified for Government tenders in the construction sector.

“Our company is registered under the Youth Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (YAGPO), and has applied for certification from the National Construction Authority to scale up our presence in the industry,” said Ms Kurgat.

She is juggling her increasingly busy work schedule with studying for a master’s in international relations at the University of Nairobi. She graduated with a degree in political science from Moi University in 2013. Ms Rotich also graduated from Moi University, but with a degree in civil and structural engineering last year, and is a registered member of the Engineers Board of Kenya.

“We work with specialists and other companies to provide quality services, and we supplement the skills of our in-house personnel with consultants in various fields,” Kurgat said.

Increased access

She credits part of Orchid’s success to a steadily improving business environment in Kenya and increased access to Government tenders. However, her key concerns remain access to affordable funding, inflation, high costs of electricity and high taxes.

But despite these challenges, Kurgat is of the view that the country’s emerging middle class guarantees increased consumption and a greater market for any investor.

These views come on the heels of Kenya hosting the Global Entrepreneurship Summit this week.

“I expect Kenya to take the opportunity to sell itself as a prime investment destination in Africa, and also for participants at the summit to make the most of it to build their networks and partnerships,” she said.

Some of the ideas Kurgat feels need to be discussed at the summit include how homegrown technologies and innovations can be modified to meet international standards and be commercialised.

“The forum presents an opportunity for Kenya and Africa at large to show the world that they are on the right track in building robust economies through entrepreneurship and mutually beneficial partnerships,” she said.

As regards Orchid, Kurgat’s expectations are high that the summit will present an opportunity for her firm to learn about the international market and how to participate in it.