Intellectual Enterprise: Kenya’s fastest growing sector.

Have you heard your former colleagues say they are selfemployed? Some have already built sustainable businesses while others are in the process. But what exactly is self-employment in a fairly learned country with limited capital goods? (Capital goods are commodities, often referred to as raw materials that are used in manufacturing to make consumable products). In a country with an influx of bright minds, thanks to the good 8-4-4 education system that made white and blue collar scholars, lack of capital goods creates a huge gap between knowledge resource and capital resource for production. Self-employment among the white collar class in Kenya is likely to mean consultancy. To the experienced professionals, consultancy means running a firm that wins tenders to advice governments, multinationals, established corporations and NGOs. On the other hand, to fresh graduates and senior college students, consultancy means getting short and subcontracts with established consultancies, offering outsourced professional services to private individuals at senior levels, exporting labour through academic writing, and copywriting for SEO and actually travelling abroad to countries with sufficient capital goods to work for better pay. According to a CBK report released in January 2021, diaspora remittances have steadily increased to become Kenya’s leading foreign exchange earner ahead of agricultural exports and tourism. These remittances are made by Kenyans who go abroad to work. In Kahawa Wendani and parts of Kasarani area in Nairobi, all bills by a majority of the residents are paid from online writing and forex trading. Economist, David Ndii calls himself a public intellectual and has actually been hired to think and strategize for a living. Ndii is one among many intellectual entrepreneurs in Kenya. Knowledge is a resource that can be exchanged for money. Kenya is ahead of its peers in the continent as it is producing the best minds in tech, law, research, medicine, engineering, economics and finance on the global stage. Government can best support this fast growing sector by democratizing access to fast internet and upgrading the quality of education in all parts of the country.

Columned by Rick Okinda

IP Rights in Kenya: Secrets to healthy business competition

Intellectual property rights (IP rights) involve protection of trademarks, copyrights, patents, industrial designs, and geographical indications among others. Kenyan economy is growing very fast and expanding its scope to include ecommerce and digital space. Protection under IP rights enables the business owner to enjoy monopoly and subject of the IP rights to the exclusion of others. IP rights protection is vital when starting a business because it protects the innovative and creative capacity of the founder and enhance healthy competition in the business environment. Protection of IP rights promote consumer welfare in relation to goods and services where they apply. The promotion of consumer welfare is done through granting of exclusive rights to the proprietors or
entities that founded and expressed the business idea being protected. IP rights protection links the consumer and the manufacturer whereby the consumer can easily identify and associate products with their respective owners. Kenyan law recognize and protect IP rights starting with the Constitution and the relevant statutes for each category of IP rights. The IP laws in Kenya also establish institutional frameworks such as Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) and Kenya copyright Board (KECOBO), which are tasked with the mandate to register and protect various IP rights in all business sectors. Entrepreneurs should therefore first register their patens for scientific innovations or trademark their brand names, logos and slogans before starting the business. First person or entity to successfully lodge documents for registration gains priority in enforcing IP rights protection to the exclusion of others. An entrepreneur should first register the expression of Idea for protection before sharing it with anyone in written form. The importance of registration is that the proprietor acquires exclusive ownership rights and such expression of idea can only be replicated by any other person with permission and license of the founder. – Column by Boaz Bwire