From 13 to 16 March, the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, returned to sub-Saharan Africa for his fifth mission to the area since becoming President of the Republic. There he visited one of the fastest growing economies in the area: Kenya, a Country where E4Impact is working since 2010. During his trip, he visited E4Impact Entrepreneurship Center in Nairobi where, in 2018, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore and E4Impact Foundation launched an Acceleration program for African companies, thanks to the support of the Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development – AICS.
Our President, Ms. Letizia Moratti and our CEO, Prof. Mario Molteni, together with E4Impact Kenyan staff received him and the Italian delegation at the Center. Accompanying the President was his daughter, Laura Mattarella, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hon. Edmondo Cirielli, the Ambassador of Italy to Kenya, H.E. Roberto Natali, the Director of AICS in Kenya, Giovanni Grandi, and other distinguished guests.
During the welcoming ceremony, H.E. Sergio Mattarella declared: “I am very pleased to be here and to learn directly about this initiative of the Foundation. I want to express my thanks and appreciation for the work it does, thanking also those who participate in its activities and support it.”
The President also underlined how the objectives of the Foundation are of great importance and in line with the authentic, full, intense and collaborative relationship between Kenya and Italy: “Italy and Kenya have a friendly and growing relationship and this contribution towards the new generations, not only to train entrepreneurial skills, but also to maintain operational contacts with already experienced companies, is of particular importance. (…) The future of Africa and Europe is necessarily a common future, and, in this area, the relationship between Kenya and Italy is exemplary and of full harmony’.
In this regard, our President, Letizia Moratti, explained how, in recent years, E4Impact has intensified its support for Italian companies interested in operating in the African countries, by putting them in contact with the African entrepreneurs who took part in the Foundation’s programmes. In the near future, E4Impact plans to create local supply chains led by Italian companies, interested in developing their business in Africa, thus contributing to the growth of a network of African companies already operating in the various countries. For Italian companies, this is a great opportunity for international development, while African companies will have the possibility of accessing to more advanced technologies and find opportunities in the Italian and European markets. They would also be able to identify new sources of financing to grow at continental and international level.
Along the years, the E4Impact Entrepreneurship Center has become a center of excellence for entrepreneurship in Kenya and has, so far, supported the growth of 90 enterprises and the incubation of another 30. The services offered to enterprises concern training, access to markets and access to finance, thanks to the development of relations with African and international investors, as well as with Italian companies interested in operating in Africa.
“Today, our Foundation is present in 20 African countries, where we work both with local institutions and through our Centers and Offices present in Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, to which others will soon be added.” specified our CEO, Mario Molteni, giving to President Mattarella a defined picture of what E4Impact Foundation has done in more than ten years of activities.
After the welcoming speeches, the President was able to meet many E4Impact Entrepreneurs who, over the years, accessed the incubation and acceleration services offered at our Center and have now become solid Kenyan entrepreneurs. He had the chance to know their products and appreciate the local vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.
This special visit was not only an honor, but also an important occasion to meet with our stakeholders, local partners and institutions. For instance, taking advantage of their trip to Nairobi, Letizia Moratti and Mario Molteni met with Mr. Samson Toniok, CEO of NETFUND, a Kenyan government environmental agency. For NETFUND E4Impact has been asked to aid in addressing the challenges of climate change by incubating innovative enterprises in the fields of Agriculture, Air pollution control, Waste management, Climate resilience, and Environmental education.
In that special week, another partnership meeting was organized with Equity Group Foundation, where our President and CEO met with Mr. Anthony Kiogora, General Manager Enterprise Development and Financial Inclusion and Ms. Jacqueline Chepkoech, Senior Program Manager Food and Agriculture. Equity Group Foundation is the social arm of Equity Group Holdings with the aim of making available modern, inclusive financial services to help people emerge from poverty. Together with E4Impact they intend to provide debt capital to E4Impact accelerated companies in sectors such as food and agriculture, health and energy and environment.
Last but not least, Letizia Moratti and Mario Molteni met the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) represented by Mr. Meshack Muga, National Project Manager, and Mr. Elijah Mboko, Technical Specialist. E4Impact was tapped by FAO as the local implementing partner for the Restoration Factory incubation program in Kenya by The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and Bridge for Billions to support up to 50 enterprises in sectors which include local varieties of honey, nuts and essential oils.
We are very honored by the visit of Sergio Mattarella and satisfied with the meetings held during the week: E4Impact demonstrated that, as our President Letizia Moratti said, “If Italy and Europe will formulate and realise a great plan for Africa, we are ready to make our contribution.”