Vusi Thembekwayo
Vusi Thembekwayo. [Photo/ Courtesy]

Vusi Thembekwayo is set to visit Kenya in April to engage with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the wake of COVID -19 which disrupted many businesses. Thembekwayo is one of Africa’s youngest, most sought-after global speakers, venture capitalist, business leader and among the most successful entrepreneurs on the continent.

The 35-year-old is the Keynote speaker of a three-day SME conference scheduled to take place on April 20 to 22, 2022 at the Movenpick Hotel. The SMELink Conference has been organised by SMELink International in partnership with the SME Founders Association.  It brings together all stakeholders in the SME sector in order to equip, empower and enable MSMEs to access business opportunities placing focus on youth and women-owned businesses to be part of the continental market equation.

“The Conference is part of our strategic objectives to connect 50 million SMEs to Money, Markets and Mentors by 2027 to foster the creation of decent and sustainable jobs and reduction of poverty,” said PatricK Ojil, Executive Director SME Link International.

“The conference will be the first in the partnership to inspire them to take action using proven techniques and tools as they connect to different stakeholders who can accelerate their businesses to scale. The highlight of the conference will be pitching sessions for SMEs dubbed Rhino’s Den where Sh100 million will be up for grabs for solid pitches.”

Frida Owinga, Founder, SME Founders Association explained the value of targeting SMEs with sustainable solutions to help their businesses scale.

“SMEs in Africa and across the globe form the largest contributors of employment and provide a source of income to the largest proportion of the population. SMEs also account for the majority of businesses worldwide and are important contributors to job creation and overall global economic development,” Owinga said.

“Additionally, SMEs contribute up to 40 percent of the GDP across emerging economies and 70 percent of employment opportunities are generated by SMEs in emerging markets. SMEs in Kenya are an underexploited resource with significant potential to boost inclusive growth.”

During the conference, SMEs will be connected to opportunities within the Africa Continental Free Trade Area as well as global markets, there will also be discussions on advocating for digitized trade and networking mechanisms and the inclusion of Youth and Women.

Among the notable speakers of the conference include Kris Senanu, Chief Enterprise Business Officer, Safaricom, Andia Chakava, Founding Principal of AC AdvisoryDirector at the Graça Machel, Trust and founding Chairperson of New Faces New Voices Kenya chapter, Eric Osiakwan, Managing Partner, Chanzo Capital, Flora Mutahi, Founder Melvin Marsh International, Esther Muchemi Samchi Group CEO, Geofrey Odundo CEO Nairobi Securities Exchange, David Osiany Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of Industrialization Trade and Enterprise Development as well as James Mureu Micro and Small Business Authority Board Chairman amongst others.

Key topics to be addressed include trade linkages, markets, opportunities at the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as well as global markets, trade requirements to foster friendly relations with regulators, funding, business scaling among others.

Subsequent conferences will take place in Africa’s Key Markets to build an ecosystem of innovative and sustainable ventures; as well as the rest of the world that include United Arab Emirates, Asia, Europe and the United States of America.

Thembekwayo’s visit to Kenya is expected to attract his faithful VT community which he continuously inspires across his social media platforms. Like any underdog, Vusi started running a business at 21, and faced a myriad of challenges including sleeping in his car before gaining unprecedented success running a consulting firm, then South Africa’s only black-owned forensic marketing agency.

Four years later he would be the youngest director of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, a bourse turning over US$1.3 billion a year.  After exiting his advisory business, and making some angel investments, he moved into VC, through MyGrowthFund Venture Partners which has several funds, including a debt fund powered by several banks.

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