Over the last seven years, Business Ireland Kenya (BIK) has developed into a robust business association through the implementation of an informed growth strategy, support from partners, a well-planned schedule of value adding activities and leadership from the Steering Committee.
While 2020 has been a challenging year, BIK has managed to increase its membership in numbers and diversity as well as maintain a calendar of engaging activities. BIK closes the year with 38 Corporate members and 43 Individual members for an approximate total of 150 individuals connected to the Association. Members represent a variety of sectors including but not limited to agriculture, agri-food, law, consulting, project management, health, logistics, trade and tourism. Interest in and the reputation of the association continues to grow.
2020 kicked off with a planning meeting in Nakuru to finalize on a strategy to continue growth and refinement of the membership offer and the association overall. BIK then hosted the first of its regular thematic breakfasts at Capital Club. The meeting focused on the benefits of building valuable partnerships for trade and investment with Irish organisations as well as enhancing economic relations with the European Union within the context of Brexit through the theme ‘Why Ireland?’. The Panellists comprised of speakers from the European Union Delegation to Kenya, Enterprise Ireland, the Embassy of Ireland in Kenya and Dairy Africa. The business breakfast was well received and attended by members, interested parties and invited guests.
Shortly thereafter in March, the disruption of COVID-19 impacted BIK and the membership began to feel extensive impact on financial markets, global supply chains, social welfare. In light of the situation, BIK canceled all March events then shifted towards virtual meetings. All in all, BIK has hosted 12 Virtual Business Hour (VBH) Sessions, each exploring a current thematic issue of interest to members. The events included opinion leaders in different industries enabling participants to stay informed and to consult experts through the virtual formats. BIK has also been able to include members as presenters in their area of expertise including taxation, human resources & labor laws, logistics, digital transformation, security and managing remote teams. BIK also leveraged key relationships to co-host some of the virtual sessions with the Embassy of Ireland, the European Business Council (EBC), and Invest Northern Ireland (INI).
VBH Sessions of note from the year include: resources available for SMEs with CS Betty Maina, a full update on COVID-19 in Kenya with CAS Dr. Mercy Mwangangi, Opportunities for trade within the East African Community (EAC) with PS Kevit Desai and Mr. Frank Matsaert, Immigration in Kenya with DG Alexander Muteshi, a look into Cybersecurity in partnership with Invest Northern Ireland including panelists from Kenya Cybersecurity and Forensics Association, SaltDNA and PWC, the final session of the year focused on exploring perspectives from women in business with Ms. Ilanna Darcy from Safaricom PLC, Ms. Frida Owinga from SME Founders Association and H.E Ambassador Fionnuala Quinlan from the Embassy of Ireland in Kenya.
More than 350 individuals registered for the virtual business hours throughout 2020. 40% represents an approximate regular repeat attendance in the year and BIK hopes to convert the new connections made into members of the association. The sessions have been extremely well received with members sharing that they have found them informative and engaging. Members have been able to participate in the sessions and view resources. The association aims to continue these virtual engagements through 2021.
This year BIK also hosted two virtual sessions for members. The first was an exciting and interactive quiz night with participants from BIK and the Kenya Irish Society. The second was an opportunity for members to speak with one another and highlight their businesses. BIK hopes to continue these sessions in 2021 to offer members the chance to connect and form key partnerships with others in the network.
In 2020 the BIK Steering Committee continued to foster partnerships and enhance dialogue to explore opportunities available for members in Nakuru County as a follow up to the scoping study launched in 2019. The meeting was an invigorating session with the Nakuru County Government, Nakuru based enterprises and associations which identified key sectors for business including agri – tech, manufacturing and financial services.
Some of the member engagement strategies employed in 2020 have included the Member to Member Offers through Email, Corporate promotion via digital platforms, feedback by way of surveys and conversations with the secretariat. The BIK website statistics showed that there was a total of 13,248 unique visitors and 20,000 visits to the BIK website with a growth in social media channels illustrated as follows – 1212 Twitter followers, 454 LinkedIn connections and 547 Facebook with an approximate average reach of over 10,000 in the year. Another key brand enhancement tactic employed by BIK in 2020 was the introduction of membership certificates and digital badges, a move for both corporates and individuals to promote their membership. The process of gathering feedback has been a positive experience and has greatly contributed to the formulation of plans for 2021 in order to create value for members. 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 2021.
Under the Emigrant Support Programme, BIK has been able to accomplish a number of key objectives and projects planned for the year. Notably, the association commissioned technical assistance to support the formulation of a monitoring and evaluation framework. The framework is the result of a well set – out process including in depth reviews of the association stakeholders as well as a forward look to extending the network. The framework will ensure all activities implemented by the association are documented and analysed in a well-structured format for future reference. The survey was launched in August 2020 and will be used quarterly.
BIK recognizes the value of knowledge. With this in mind, the association is in the process of updating the Doing Business Guide (DBG). The guide will offer potential investors statistical data, insight into business procedures and dealing with regulatory governmental bodies as well as links to helpful associations which they can reach out to for additional information. Along with the updated Doing Business Guide, BIK has plans to add enhanced informational resources hub, which is timely and accessible. The hub will contain relevant and current articles, opportunities and reports of interest.
BIK is keen to expand its reach and foster collaboration, the Steering Committee has taken steps to engage with business and cultural associations of similar interest including Business Ireland South Africa, Business Ireland Africa, Enterprise Ireland, European Business Council Kenya and Kenya Irish Society. The creation and fostering of relationships that promote and facilitate trade between African Countries and Ireland will add value to BIK membership and extend the opportunities available to members.
Finally, BIK has also made steps towards strengthening the Secretariat through hiring a full time Coordinator for the association and creating effective administrative systems. The Steering Committee continues to work on key strategies to move the association forward including convening of regular meetings, sharing of ideas and promotion of BIK amongst various stakeholders.
As we look forward, we are excited for 2021 and beyond. We look forward to your continued active engagement.