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September 23, 2018

Coming Soon: A business School By Kenya's Chamber of Commerce

CLASSROOM: Peter Biwott, trade development manager at KNCCI, at the Chambers' offices in Nairobi. Photo/ENOS TECHE
CLASSROOM: Peter Biwott, trade development manager at KNCCI, at the Chambers' offices in Nairobi. Photo/ENOS TECHE

The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry is about to set up a business school, with a view to offering practical training that will bridge a skills gap in key areas of entrepreneurship.

KNCCI plans to eventually start offering diploma courses once the school is on its feet.

The trainings are to start in just over a month from now, in February 2015. PETER BIWOTT, the trade development manager at KNCCI, told MERCY GAKII in an interview that the main motivation behind offering these short courses – such as in governance, leadership, entrepreneurship and international trade is to reduce the disconnect between what students learn elsewhere in classes and what is being practised in the industry. Here are the excerpts:

What motivated KNCCI to start a college despite there being so many others around today?
It is true that there are many colleges offering all manner of studies in this and that. However, we noted a disconnect between what the students learn in class and the needs of the industry. We endeavour to be the link between these two.

How did you come up with the curriculum, and is it approved?
We have developed curricula for some of the courses and are still developing more depending on the needs that have been presented so far. We may not offer all courses at once, but a few at a time, as we test the outcomes.

The curriculum has been approved by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. The Chamber is also at advanced stages towards clinching a partnership with an Australian institution, which will offer some of the specialised business and management courses.

Expound more on the trainings to be offered.
The short courses will range from two to five days initially and will be offered both at national and county levels. For instance, a course targeting those in the export business or leadership and governance may take three days, after which they will be issued with certificates of attendance.

What should prospective attendees expect?
The courses are designed to be highly practical and to offer hands-on solutions to situations that entrepreneurs face in their daily work. They should help the attendees to connect the dots within their sectors in order to succeed.

For those who haven't been in the industry yet, the courses are geared towards teaching them the ropes to get their feet into the business world. Some short courses will include training on time management, mentoring skills, effective communication among many others. As the institution gets on its feet, we expect to offer longer term training such as diploma courses.

How will you source for students?
Since we plan to start with short courses, we will first notify members of KNCCI to register. Over time, we may put up advertisements in the press for programmes such as the graduate entrepreneurship internship.

The internship programme is bound to catch the attention of graduates and those in their final year of college and university, because we will be connecting them to appropriate opportunities to practice what they have trained in their careers while in real work environments.

We seek to create a pool of employers and not employees through inculcating the culture of entrepreneurship in our youth.

Who will be the trainers or lecturers?
It will be on needs basis and thus we will source from our members, especially those who understand industry needs. They will communicate these to learners and challenge them to come up with practical solutions. In the long-term, we shall recruit depending on the courses that take off.

Will the training target fresh graduates or even those already doing business?
There will be a graduate entrepreneurship programme targeting recent graduates from colleges and universities who are interested in business incubation. Then there is the micro and small enterprises formalisation programme for those already in the sector and wish to upgrade their trade from informal to  formal.

A third category is the apprenticeships and vocational programmes, which could net in even school drop-outs who wish to gain life skills that they can use to start off their own businesses. These ones will require to be attached with KNCCI members in their area of trade to learn on the job.

Where will the college be located?
We are renovating Ufanisi House on Haile Selassie Avenue within the CBD where we will eventually be offering longer term courses.

What will be the cost for these trainings?
We have worked out a payment formula for short courses, which we expect will be attended mostly by the Chamber members. We also want to take advantage of funding opportunities in government and other partners for some of these courses.

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