The link between entrepreneurship, sustainability and international trade and cooperation

The speech of Carole Kariuki, KEPSA’s Ceo, at Advantage Footprint for Trade and Growth held in UNIBA for G7 on May 11, 2017 at Università degli Studi di Bari


On behalf of my country Kenya, and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the Italian Government who through the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Finance have organized this meeting. Allow me to say a few about things about Kenya Private Sector Alliance – the organisation I represent, before continuing with the topic of discussion




KEPSA is the apex and the umbrella body for the private sector in Kenya founded in 2003 as a limited liability membership organization with a mandate to unify the entire business community to tackle the challenges pertinent to doing business in Kenya as one voice. We work closely with the government at all levels (county, national and regional levels), development partners, civil society and all stakeholders, to ensure that the environment encourages businesses in all sectors of the economy start, grow and thrive.


Today, our membership has grown to over 500,000 members organized under different BMOs, and corporates from 16 sectors of the economy; and the strength of our PPD engagement has made KEPSA a role model for other African countries and cited from around the world. Importantly, the real impact of what we do is felt by the businesses in Kenya. We have been passionate in supporting the growth of the private sector in Kenya and the region at large. As the private sector thrives, we are always keen to mind the well-being of the environment. This has informed our advocacy work in Kenya and we have engraved sustainability in our agenda. At KEPSA we have been part and parcel of a number of initiatives that focus on the protection of the environment. Among these initiatives is the Sustainable Inclusive Business (SIB) and the SWITCH Africa Green project.


Sustainable Inclusive Business (SIB)


The Kenya Private Sector Alliance is also spearheading the Sustainable Inclusive Business (SIB) which has assisted businesses measure and report on sustainability with a focus on the Sustainable Development Goals. It also collates knowledge, networks, studies, publications, trainings and expertise, and makes them accessible to the business community. Under SIB-Kenya we have managed to create awareness within the Private Sector on how Sustainable inclusive business as a “business model creates value by providing products and services that have a positive impact on People, Planet and Profit rather than Business engaging in philanthropy or charity.” So far we have 15 Businesses making Inclusive Business an intentional business model for their operations.


We have reached out to 350 Businesses and over 3000 people both directly and indirectly through different platforms like Annual conference, Sector specific workshops, SIB portal and the media. These forms 85% of the growth within the SIB Network. Sustainable Inclusive Business Kenya has also managed to strengthen the link between Sustainable inclusive business models and how they help the private sector in achieving the SDGs in Kenya. This has brought about over 45 Businesses sharing their sustainability and inclusive business model and their impact on the SDGs. Moving forward, through SIB, we continue to develop a dynamic new sustainability Web presence that will incorporate tools such as databases, metric-gathering instruments and social media.


SWITCH Africa Green project


KEPSA implements the “Capacity Enhancement for Green Business Development and Eco entrepreneurship in the Agriculture Sector.” The project is funded by the EU and implemented by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Office for Project Services. The project’s main objective is to enhance the capacity of Micro, Small Medium Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) to develop, adopt and implement appropriate frameworks for Sustainable Production and Consumption (SCP) practices. Some of the key interventions under the project include: awareness creation, MSMEs needs assessment and training, mentorship, monitoring and Evaluation, as well as policy advocacy.


To date, 16 MSMEs have been trained on selected SCP best practices to enhance adoption of energy and water efficiency, labelling and standards, eco-innovation and sustainable green growth. Technical monitoring has also been conducted and MSMEs guided on how to address various SCP hotspots. As a result of the project, MSMEs are taking steps to improve resource, water and energy efficiency with notable improvement in waste management, water and energy efficiency and sales increase. Some of the early results that have been tracked by the project include: Waste Management with a 51.43% reduction, increased sales for the participating MSMEs because of Branding, Quality and Standards 38%, 48.80% reduction in Water Consumption, and 24.17% reduction in Electricity Consumption.


It is important for us to hold in high regard the issue of environment and sustainability as we expand trade and international corporations. You will agree with me that what started as an economic crisis is turning out to be a social and environmental crisis. African economies are not growing at the same pace as our youth population, neither are they instituting mechanisms to safeguard the environment.

Currently in Africa, the youth population stands at 226 million accounting for 19% of the global youth population, while Africa’s average GDP growth stands at 5.4%.  And as we foster investment we have no option but to focus on sustainability. The reality today is that Profits kill people and planet, and thus we have to engrave sustainability into our companies’ DNA. As the private sector, therefore, it is our call to use our resources to protect the environment. Money is our greatest weapon; we can choose to use it to destroy or re-invest it into the environment. The Private sector controls a huge amount of wealth in the global economy, contributing more than 70% to the global GDP; a representation of a major actor in the ecological change.



As I conclude, it is important to note that there is a window of opportunity for the private sector to participate in Sustainable Development through adopting the SDGs. Importantly, engaging in inclusive business offers the potential to unleash the economic power of the private sector to realize the SDGs. Studies show a surge in social and environmental investment at more than Kshs.5 trillion (USD 50 billion) in total assets globally. In the next 10 years, researchers predict, this “impact investing” has the potential to grow to about 1 per cent of total managed assets, which would result in Kshs.50 trillion (USD 500 billion) in capital directed at social and environmental impact. Lastly, there is no business without the environment and people. Let us jump into the green train and safeguard all for inclusive benefits.