Transcript of Audio Clip Recorded November 30, 2020
One thing that's important to me is the narrative of entrepreneurship and the fact that it's, you know, it's good for the government, for example, to push entrepreneurship, because if every person is supposed to take care of themselves and to make business and blah, blah, blah, like then that reduces what the government is expected to do and also increases the tax base so, the Kenyan entrepreneur emerging...actually you know what else we could do is to talk about the emergence of these figures. So like, the emergence of the Kenyan entrepreneur, because I think for a particular period, let's say...I don't know...I would be interested to hear your thoughts because did iHub contribute to like the narrative of the Kenyan entrepreneur? Or was that something that was there even before iHub? Like, did the UN talk about entrepreneurship before? Like when did that narrative of, like the Kenyan entrepreneur become such a thing?
Because, like, I actually have a picture of a poster at UoN (University of Nairobi) with, like, these, young--one guy, one woman--like, young Kenyans just, like, looking out and being like, "you are the next entrepreneur!" Like, some sort of, like, you can entrepreneur yourself out of problems, out of poverty, out of bad government, out of everything, you know, like the idea of, like, "You have a problem? Entrepreneur your way out of it!" you know? And, like, that has become so strong.
And then building on the hustler mindset, like, "oh well, Kenyans are naturally entrepreneurial because they're hustlers." "There's something cultural about being Kenyan that makes you a good entrepreneur." Like I think that has really been a justification or, like, a point that I've heard a lot, you know?
So, and then I think what we've been reading about in the Village Capitol report of, like, the investor as this figure. And, so if we kind of unpack these, these figures, and we can talk about the timeline around them, or we can, like, use them to talk about the timeline, but be like, when did the figure of the investor come up? And, like, why did that end up being such a white, foreign figure?
Yeah. And I think we have to be very specific about tech entrepreneurs, because I feel like there's always been a lot of entrepreneurship, and that's why this--what's it called--the ongoing figure that 80% of the Kenyan population is in the informal sector.
And when you think about jua kali, you know, that is entrepreneurship, like, people, people hustling day by day to try to fill a gap. And so the only thing is that the way the transactions happen, they're so informal. That's why they are not as glorified now as this rising technology entrepreneur who is more visible. So I think when we're talking about these figures, we are specifically talking about tech entrepreneurship, because entrepreneurship has always been there. It just wasn't what has maybe become more prominent and visible again in narratives, etc. is tech and tech-enabled entrepreneurs. Yeah.
Actually, that is a part of what kind of fuels this narrative that Kenyans would be so good at it. Right? Like, "there are already, there are already entrepreneurs and potential technologists out there just waiting to be discovered." I remember Jessica [our former boss at the iHub] coming back to the office one day and she was like, "yeah, I was driving in Upper Hill and I came across this guy who was selling this." Do you remember? And it was like this light, a battery-powered, light bulb thing. And it was like, the exact thing you would think about when you think about like jua kali like entrepreneurship and like early technology because he was like, building these battery-powered light bulbs that he literally made himself. And she brought it back. And so I don't know if it was just Jessica, but I think there was also this idea that like, "we could help these people," you know, like, we could increase the tech of their "techie-ness" and then they could also become tech entrepreneurs. I think was like this sentiment.
This transcript is part of the source data for the article "Becoming an African Techpreneur: geopolitics of investments in “local” Kenyan entrepreneurship" by Angela Okune and Leonida Mutuku, published in the journal Engaging Science, Technology, and Society.
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Angela Okune and Leonida Mutuku, 30 November 2020, "2020 Nov 30. Transcript of an Audio Clip on the Narratives of Kenyan Entrepreneurship", contributed by Angela Okune and Leo Mutuku, STS Infrastructures, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 16 January 2023, accessed 31 March 2023. https://stsinfrastructures.org/content/2020-nov-30-transcript-audio-clip-narratives-kenyan-entrepreneurship
This is a transcript of an audio clip recorded during a Zoom call between the co-authors Angela Okune and Leonida Mutuku which took place on November 30, 2020. As part of conceptualizing their paper, the co-authors were discussing the emergence of the figure of Kenyan techpreneur and the ways narratives about how Kenyans are entrepreneurial have fed into narratives about techpreneurship.
Find the audio clip associated with this transcript here.