On July 30, 2013, the Chandaria Business Innovation and Incubation Center was unveiled at Kenyatta University. The center promises an approach that seeks to redefine university education and open new opportunities for economic development.
Kenya’s latest unemployment rates are near 12 percent according to the Institute of Economic Affairs. The World Bank reports more than 800,000 people entering the job market, including university graduates, competing for 50,000 openings.
The center will support 50 student innovations and entrepreneurial ideas for a 6-12 month incubation period upon where it will be introduced into the market. The center was made possible in part by a substantial personal contribution from Dr. Chandaria. At the event, Dr Chandaria urged, “We need a nation which can produce results.”
At the unveiling, Oliver Mugenda vice-chancellor of Kenyatta University said of the project, “The aim of this programme is to create a shift from job seekers to job creators.” Minister of Trade Chirau Ali Mwakwere said the center will connect emerging entrepreneurs to the global market and create new sectors of economic growth.
Dr. Chandaria is no stranger to entrepreneurship. As the CEO of Comcraft Group, he took the small, family-run, aluminum pots manufacturer and built it into a billion dollar business that operates in over 40 countries.
On entrepreneurship Dr. Chandaria is quoted in Entrepreneurial Solutions for Prosperity in BoP Markets, by Eric Kacou saying:
“The essence of entrepreneurship is the fire in the belly, that drive. That is the key to open the constraints that are in your way. That is the key to open the doors that keep you inside instead of going out. You’ve got to walk to any destination.”
In other words, successful business endeavors are driven by vision and leadership. Educating the future innovators is not merely about how much they know, but how much they are driven by a need to make a significant impact on their world.
Dr. Chandaria has also been a strong advocate of youth volunteerism as a means of cultivating “the fire in the belly” necessary for innovative solutions to current challenges. During the launch of the African Peace Service Corps in 2012, Dr. Chandraria said, “This is what we want – that each of us must make sure that our children are not sitting home and just doing nothing. We would like to see each one of them give something.” For Dr. Chandaria, service is a means for unemployed youth to make meaningful contributions to society and develop professional skills.
As Kenya works through its current economic challenges towards Vision 2030, its development roadmap, wisdom like Dr. Chandaria’s is invaluable. Creating value in new markets requires not just innovation, but a sustainable driving force, a vision to serve humanity.