Susie Kitchens opens social enterprise conference in Nairobi

UK Deputy High Commissioner, Susie Kitchens, opened the 2nd African Annual Conference on Social Entrepreneurship in Nairobi. Photo: Twitter/socialbiz_ke

The UK Deputy High Commissioner to Kenya, Susie Kitchens, yesterday put out a rallying cry for people who will question, disrupt and not accept the status quo, during a speech at the second African Annual Conference on Social Entrepreneurship (AACOSE) at Tangaza College in Nairobi.

Opening the event with her address, “chief guest” Ms Kitchens described social enterprises as the “business model for the 21st Century”, adding they have a triple bottom line of profit, environment and social impact.

She also stated that the continent of Africa is shifting from being aid led to enterprise led, with social enterprise being the bridge between the two.

The UK is Kenya’s top overseas investor, with 200 British companies active and over £1 billion of trade, with the potential to grow more after Britain’s exit from the European Union. 1 in 10 working Kenyans are employed by a British company and many support social entrepreneurs in Kenya, such as BBC Africa.

Support through funding, technical assistance and training from the UK government for social entrepreneurship in Kenya is provided through the Science and Innovation Network (SIN), British Council, Royal Academy of Engineering and the Newton Fund.

There are currently 44k social enterprises running in Kenya and the conference aims to bring together a cohort of social entrepreneurs, academia, public and private sector.

Peter Oloo with Susie Kitchens
Social Enterprise Kenya CEO Peter Oloo with UK Deputy High Commissioner Susie Kitchens. Photo: Twitter/socialbiz_ke

It covered a number of themes including innovation training for social entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurship: coaching for investor readiness, talent identification, incubation for the social enterprise and scaling up, creating shared value through social enterprise, engaging legislature for policy and legal framework for social enterprises, and social enterprise: measuring and reporting social impact.

Ms Kitchens was thanked for attending with a ‘gift of appreciation’ from the organisers and she also took the opportunity to interact with some of the exhibitors at the conference.

What is “social enterprise”?

A social enterprise is an organization that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in financial, social and environmental well-being—this may include maximizing social impact alongside profits for external shareholders.