KEPSA participated in the inaugural Adebisi Babatunde Thomas Memorial lecture on 7th March, 2018 at Strathmore University. The theme of the lecture was, ‘Transforming Africa through action: Women& Youth intergenerational dialogue.
In his welcoming remarks, the Dean of Strathmore Business School, Dr. George Njenga said formation of culture and transformation of the society starts from a home nurtured by a woman. He further said the hard work by women cannot go without the supplementation of institutions of learning. “Through Adebisi Babatunde Thomas entrepreneurship institute (ABTEI) we have realized this dream and aspiration,” he added.
The advisor to the Dean and Academic Director: Women in Business and Executive Leadership Programmes, Dr. Patricia Murugami, noted that the playing field has always been uneven for women in the corporate sector, therefore, the need to uplift them. She went on to say the real defense is not only to our country but to choose not to look at someone who is different as difficult.
Mrs Nardos Bekele -Thomas was grateful to the First lady for honoring the invitation by her presence. She said Prof. Babatunde believed in liberating the youth and having inter-generational dialogue. She pledged to continue pursuing Babatunde’s aspiration and supporting ABTEI. “The greatest legacy we can leave to the younger generation is to tell them where we went wrong and what our weaknesses were,” said Mrs. Bekele.
The Chairman, Board of Trustees of ABTEI, Dr Edward Sambili gave a brief on the work that ABTEI does. He said the training focuses on the individual and ensures they succeed in starting, growing and sustaining their businesses. He highlighted the vision of ABTEI as to strengthen and provide facilitation of harnessing the creative and innovative minds of African youth and women. When encouraging everyone to support ABTEI, he said, “It’s not about the right or left wing. It takes both of them to fly.”
KEPSA CEO, Ms. Carole Kariuki, emphasized on the need for youth and women mentorship. She said mentors sometimes are watched from a distance noting that this is a model the youth should embrace, if they cannot get the real life model. She went on to say, “Today as we celebrate the achievement of women leadership and their contribution in the society, it is important to note the private sector holds the view that economic transformation is pegged on how best we integrate women and youth into our development agenda.” Ms. Kariuki further highlighted that women and youth-led businesses are making a significant contribution to the Kenyan economy. She expounded on this by stating that Women led business account for about one-half (48 percent) of all micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), which contribute around 20 percent to Kenya’s GDP.
Ms. Kariuki also informed the audience about KEPSA has engaged in that promote women and youth empowerment in the economic transformation of Kenya. She said KEPSA runs a vibrant women in business programme under KEPSA foundation.
She concluded by acknowledging that as a country we have made great strides on women access to opportunities, development and management. However, she noted, Kenya still has a long journey to integrate women in all sectors of the economy, especially in leadership roles.
H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s, the president of republic of Liberia, remarks was read by Mrs Nardos. H.E Ellen began by eulogizing Prof. Babatunde Thomas. She said he was an excellent leader in ideas and in action and hopes his memory leaves forever. She further applauded the Trustees for carrying out the wish of the Founder of ABTEI. She pledged to continue to support ABTEI to achieve its vision and mission.
The Governor, Bomet County , Hon. Dr Joyce Laboso said women and youth intergenerational dialogue calls for more innovative systems that are compatible with the changes taking place in Africa. She believes devolution works and there is a new migration from urban to rural. Dr Laboso said she would like her county youth to be part of the Ajira Digital programme. In her conclusion, she also pledged to support ABTEI in her conclusion.
The Cabinet Secretary for Education, Amb. Dr. Amina Mohamed, spoke about the role of education in handling unemployment. She said education is a spring board for the empowerment of youth and women. She further stated that the role of education is for us to create new things.
Her Excellency the First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta, spoke on her continuous commitment to the beyond zero program which focuses more on transforming the lives of children, youth and women. She appreciated ABTEI for aligning its mission is aligned to that of the beyond zero program. “I truly believe a healthy nation is the responsibility of each of us. What will you do to make a mark in history and stand to be counted for the most vulnerable in the country?” She challenged the audience in her conclusion.