Business Ireland Kenya (BIK) was established in 2014 to promote and facilitate business links and trading opportunities between Kenya and Ireland. BIK is a registered society in Kenya, governed by a constitution and driven by a hard-working Steering Committee who offer up their time voluntarily. The Steering Committee meets on a regular basis to plan various BIK activities such as Business Breakfast meetings, social events and any other activities that will assist in the growth of the network.
BIK is working hard to build up its membership base and in 2018, the membership increased to 13 corporate members and 46 individual members; totaling 85 members in all. This is a great achievement for such a young network demonstrating BIK’s reputation as one of the fastest-growing networks in Nairobi.
Each BIK Business Breakfast meeting and Social Event gives members an opportunity to network and to garner information from specially chosen and expert speakers in sectors of interest, which it is hoped offers value to members’ businesses and presents opportunities for collaboration.
Through collaboration with the Embassy of Ireland in Kenya, BIK has reached out to members and prospective members with a view to raising the profile of trade and investment opportunities between Kenya and Ireland. With visits this year to Kenya from Minister Kevin Boxer Moran and Minister Pat Breen, and outward visits to Ireland by two Kenyan Delegations; one led by Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya and another by Principal Secretary Dr Chris Kiptoo, awareness has been raised about opportunities for deepening trade between our two countries. BIK is well placed to champion and support this partnership and to use its role in the broader Kenyan business community to help promote and strengthen this relationship and the trade linkages.
Over the course of 2018, BIK convened five Business Breakfast meetings each with a different theme; and focused predominantly around the Government of Kenya’s “Big Four Agenda”; Food Security, Affordable Housing, Manufacturing and Healthcare. Other themes covered included tourism, and the trade and investment opportunities between Ireland and Kenya. All of these events attracted good turnout of both members and guests; testament to the quality of speakers that BIK attracts.
BIK has also participated in a number of European Business Council meetings and events over the course of the year and has strengthened linkages with other chambers and networks, including the British Chamber of Commerce in Kenya. BIK will continue to strengthen these relationships in 2019.
2018 also saw a successful BIK Social Event held at the Movenpick Hotel in Westlands in September. Over 75 members attended the networking event. The evening also provided an excellent opportunity to publicly launch the new Doing Business in Kenya Guide which was developed over the course of the year by the BIK Steering Committee and which is a very useful resource for companies interested in entering the Kenyan market. The Guide also had an Irish launch event in Dublin in October on the margins of the Africa Ireland Economic Forum.
BIK was represented by a number of BIK Steering Committee members at the Africa Ireland Economic Forum in Dublin, at which Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya was a Keynote Speaker. CS Munya and Ireland’s Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, signed a Letter of Intent between Ireland and Kenya to strengthen bilateral economic trade between both countries. A roundtable event on opportunities for trade and investment in East Africa was very well attended by Irish companies and agencies.
In 2018, a BIK sub-committee was formed to assess the opportunities that exist for BIK member companies in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how businesses can incorporate a focus on the SDGs and social impact into their businesses. A number of meetings were held including a roundtable discussion which drew on the experience of organisations which provide supports to companies which aim to align to the SDGs. A very successful evening event was held at the Capital Club in November which brought together highly respected and influential figures working in this area and which was very well-attended by both BIK members and Capital Club members. The event was chaired by Ambassador Dr. Vincent O Neill and a report on the event has been developed.
Other highlights and achievements in 2018 include the launch of a community platform on the new BIK website which provides more opportunities for interaction between members outside of the Business Breakfast and Social Events held during the year. BIK also played a key role in the annual Ireland-Kenya St Patrick’s Day celebrations by co-sponsoring a concert with the Embassy and participating in a breakfast discussion on doing business in Kenya with visiting Minister Boxer Moran.
The BIK Steering Committee had a very productive meeting with Minister Pat Breen, Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection when he visited Kenya in November for the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference. The meeting was also attended by Enterprise Ireland and Geoscience Ireland. The BIK Steering Committee made a strong case for political support for a trade mission to Kenya in 2019 which Minister Breen committed to follow-up on.
As a business network, BIK continues to grow and its success depends on its members and their participation. During the year, the BIK Steering Committee arranged surveys of members which provided very interesting and valuable feedback which will inform planning for 2019. The Steering Committee hopes that 2019 will be an even more productive and positive year for BIK, with engaging and informative breakfast meetings, social events and a planned scoping study early in the year which aims to assess opportunities for BIK members in select counties outside of Nairobi.
Thank you for your continued support and engagement. We look forward to an exciting year ahead