Business Ireland Kenya (BIK) achieved a milestone in 2019, with five years of existence to promote and facilitate business links and trading opportunities between Kenya and Ireland. During those five years, BIK has grown and matured as a business association, supported by a volunteer Steering Committee and an established Secretariat. BIK also benefits from close ties to the Embassy of Ireland in Kenya and Enterprise Ireland.
In 2019, BIK focused on engagements that would offer additional value to members, this was achieved through networking events, business breakfasts, access to trade missions, and sharing of information of interest. BIK was successful in growing overall membership over the course of the year. The year closes with 25 corporate members and 45 individual members, for a total of 100 individuals connected to the association. This increase in membership allowed the network to grow and exceed the goals set for the year. Members represent a variety of sectors including but not limited to agriculture, agri-food, technology, consulting, project management, health, life sciences, logistics, trade and tourism. Interest in and the reputation of the association continues to grow.
BIK hosted five thematic breakfasts in 2019; the themes for which were selected based on current issues and the interest of members. The breakfasts, in order, were Doing business in Kenya – The regulatory environment”= (February), Business Expansion and opportunities for growth(April), Manufacturing – a key pillar of Kenya’s Big Four Agenda (July) and Bridging the skills gap (September). Each breakfast explored its theme from different angles and perspectives for the benefit of the audience with invited expert speakers. The breakfasts were well-attended by members, interested parties and invited guests. They continue to be of value and interest to the members. With the exception of one breakfast meeting at the Park Inn by Radisson, all were held at the Capital Club.
BIK continues to work closely with the Embassy of Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, also known as “Team Ireland.” BIK supported a highly successful Ministerial trade mission in November organized by Enterprise Ireland (EI). The mission was led by the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, accompanied by 42 EI clients representing all target sectors including Digital Technology, FinTech, International Education, Agritech, Life Sciences and Construction. Deals valued at Sh4.8 billion were signed during the mission in Kenya. (Business Daily Africa, Nov 13th 2019)
BIK also continues to interact with other business associations within Nairobi on issues that matter to its members and which are best addressed collectively. This year, challenges related to importation and taxation led to a broad effort led by the European Business Council (EBC), and the associated Embassies, to engage with the Kenyan government at both diplomatic and technical levels. Following the first engagement in May, EBC has continued to be the owner of these efforts; BIK supports these efforts by ensuring members give their input, experiences and are aware of activities.
In 2019, BIK also embarked on new areas of focus actively exploring business opportunities for members outside of Nairobi. BIK commissioned a scoping study on opportunities for trade and investment in Nakuru County which was completed and published in April 2019. The study outlined the key business opportunities available within the County and mapped out the key requirements of doing business from licensing to key contacts. The study was partially funded by a grant from the Irish Government’s Emigrant Support Programme. BIK Steering Committee members also accompanied Ambassador Fionnuala Quinlan on her courtesy visit to the Governor of Nakuru County in June 2019.
BIK held two social events this year. This included a traditional event during St. Patrick’s week at Kengeles Bar and Grill in Lavington with music by Coille, a traditional band from Ireland. The second event was held in September at the Dusit Hotel.
Both were well attended and allowed the audience to mingle, network and socialize with a broad group of individuals.
The BIK Steering Committee decided to change its engagement with members during the course of 2019, disbanding the community portal of the website in favor of more direct outreach and communication through email and social media. One of the member engagement strategies employed was a corporate member promotion, run for a week at a time, sharing information and offers from each particular corporate member. The feedback has been positive. Establishing BIK as a premier association for both Irish and Kenyan business communities continues to be an area of focus for BIK and we look forward to exploring strategies that will serve to engage, serve and promote our members and their businesses in 2020.
Finally, BIK took steps this year to strengthen its operations. These steps included regular planning meetings, developing visibility materials and a strengthened Secretariat.
As we look forward, we are excited for 2020 and beyond. We look forward to your continued active engagement.