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Foreigners reap from under-exploited opportunities as Kenyans stick to tested ventures

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To use the words of President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya is a hotbed of vibrant culture, beauty and infinite possibility and that is why American cable news network CNN projects that Kenya will be Africa’s largest economy in five years.

Projections by global financial institutions including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) also show that the country’s economy will grow 5.9%, 6.1% and 6.0% in 2019 respectively, an indicator that there exists a lot of untapped opportunities in Kenya.

However as all this is unfolding, foreigners have taken note of the country’s economic potential and have invested in promising opportunities while a vast majority of Kenyans remain unemployed or cannot test their entrepreneurial nous due to the state of financial inclusion in the country.

Deep pocketed local investors have in the past decade showed that they are reluctant to diversify and are instead putting their money in the traditional, tried and tested ideas including banking, real estate etc leaving the under-exploited opportunities up for grabs and that is where the foreigners come in.

One such foreigner is Joel Jackson, a British national, the founder of Mobius Motors who is now reaping the fruits of spotting an untapped opportunity and concentrating his efforts towards its actualization.

The Kenyan car manufacturer has already received 300 pre-orders for its latest rough terrain SUV (Mobius II) approximately one year after the company started accepting orders.

While on a trip to Kenya in 2009, Mr Jackson saw the demand for rough terrain vehicles in the country and decided to follow it through.

“Vehicles on the local market aren’t designed for local consumers. They’re made in Japan or the US but roads here are horrendously bad. People often carry heavy loads in vehicles so they need to be durable. They’re underserved,” said Jackson in 2012.

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Conversely, the Lake Turkana Wind Power project was also discovered by tourists who were so amazed by the strength of the winds in Loyangalani, Marsabit County that they decided to set up a wind power farm in the area after engaging investors who bankrolled the project.

The project is now complete and injects 310MW to the national grid.

Alex Eaton, the founder and CEO of Sistema.bio, a provider of hybrid reactor digester solutions, an American investor is currently in Kenya firming up his energy solutions interests in the country.

“Kenya has high potential with millions of livestock farmers, with animal waste as ready raw material for biogas production,” Mr Eaton told journalists last week.

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And as the business saying goes, only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go.

The foreigners are now laughing to the bank as Kenyans opt for the old and saturated ventures.

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