“It’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself, that determines how your life’s story will develop.” - Dieter F. Uchtdorf
This quote summarizes the journey of numerous entrepreneurs that Sinapis supported in 2021. Being the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the reality of a ‘new normal’ was hitting home for many businesses. Continued COVID-19 restrictions after new variants and a season of drought early in 2021 affected many business owners in Kenya. However, it was not all gloom and doom. In 2021, Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP) was expected to grow by 5%, one of the faster recoveries among Sub-Saharan African countries (World Bank, 2021).
Through online learning, nearly 215 Kenyan entrepreneurs fulfilled the requirements to graduate from our Aspire and Entrepreneur Academy in 2021. The online curriculum made it easier for students outside Nairobi to attend our programs. We welcomed students from Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Turkana, and one all the way from Tanzania.
As COVID-19 lockdown and curfew restrictions began to lift, we introduced more alumni in-person meetups to allow the students to meet their classmates before graduation day and build a rapport as they officially join the alumni community. “Constant reference to the notes after the program has been very encouraging. In addition, I have received much insight and encouragement from the various Sinapis alumni events,” said George Karimi, a Sinapis Aspire Launchpad alumnus.
Towards the end of last year, we turned to KTN Home, one of Kenya’s leading television networks, to produce our annual Sinapis Business Competition as a reality TV program. It was watched by close to 600,000 people when it aired. It showcased some of the strongest companies that emerge from our community. For weeks, the finalists worked diligently on their pitch deck presentations and stage presence. We invited business leaders and investors to be part of our five-person judging panel to select the winners. We divided the competitors into two groups – Early Stage and Growth Stage – with Ksh. 1,000,000 for the winner of each category.
Each entrepreneur made their case with conviction and passion. The judges chose James Nyamai of Taliana Foods as the Early Stage group winner. Taliana Foods Ltd. fills a current and growing unmet market demand for gluten-free flour through a scalable, smallholder farmer-enabled model. Judges selected Carolyne Njung'e of Candi Fresh Kenya as the Growth Stage group winner. The social enterprise delivers safe and affordable street food for youth in Western Kenya
Congratulations to all the finalists and graduates in 2021. We're praying for your future success and impact in your community.