Kenya: business development and job creation at the heart of the agreement signed by Italy with UNIDO

Nairobi, 29th July 2022 –  This morning the Ambassador of Italy to Kenya, Mr. Alberto Pieri, and the Acting Representative of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) for Kenya, Ms. Kawira Bucyana, have signed a cooperation agreement that will kick-start an initiative to boost the Nairobi-based E4Impact Accelerator. The agreement was countersigned by Mr. Giovanni Grandi, the Head of the Nairobi office of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS).

The E4Impact Accelerator and Incubator represents a centre of excellence in the country. It was established in 2018 through the support of the Italian Cooperation and the Catholic University ‘Sacro Cuore’ of Milan. Despite its relatively recent creation, the Centre has rapidly become a reference point in Kenya’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, offering legal, financial, entrepreneurial and mentoring services to more than 40 local businesses and start-ups. Today, the Centre has a dual function of both accelerator and incubator, supporting both the start-up and the strengthening of local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The companies supported are selected according to their potential social, economic and environmental impacts, with special attention given to female and youth entrepreneurs.

Since its creation, Italy has invested over 2.8 million euros to strengthen the E4Impact accelerator and incubation centre, with an additional 600,000 euros of Italian contribution to UNIDO approved by the cooperation agreement signed this morning. UNIDO will oversee technical assistance to expand the training offered by the Centre and scale up its autonomy and effectiveness.

The initiative represents a pilot project in the partnership between the academia, the private sector and public institutions (the so-called triple helix approach) to promote entrepreneurship and job creation in Kenya.

"Through this investment, Italy aims at creating a favourable environment to strengthen the private sector and to promote research, innovation, training, job creation and technological development", said Ambassador Pieri. ''Small and medium-sized enterprises play a crucial role in Kenya as in Italy, representing around 80% of the gross domestic product and 70% of total employment. Our support to the young and dynamic entrepreneurial class characterizing Kenya is intended to allow entrepreneurs to best express their potential and become a driving force for sustainable development''.

"Employment creation, start-up and expansion of small businesses represents a qualifying element for the action of the Italian Cooperation in Kenya'', added Giovanni Grandi, Head of AICS Office in Nairobi. ''In Kenya, AICS is active with initiatives specifically targeting job and businesses creation; in addition to that, support to the private sector and creation of income is transversal to our interventions in the country. It is a necessary element to promote sustainable economic growth, but also for the affirmation of democratic and participatory principles''.

“UNIDO is pleased to work in cooperation with E4impact in order to improve SME sector contribution to the economic growth of Kenya” said Ms. Bucyana from UNIDO “ this project represents an opportunity to foster the collaboration with public and private partners to  achieve impact and improve project sustainability. The project is being implemented within our 5-year programmatic framework known as Programme for Country Partnership (PCP) that was signed in 2021 by H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta. The PCP is UNIDO’s innovative model for accelerating inclusive and sustainable industrial development in Member States".


Brief background info

The 'Improvement of business acceleration services through a public-private partnership approach'  initiative is worth an investment of 600,000 euros and has a duration of two years. It will be implemented by UNIDO and is funded by the Italian Cooperation. The goal is to consolidate the presence and training offer of the E4Impact Accelerator through UNIDO specific technical expertise.

The focus of the project is based on identification of sectors with the potential to create inclusive and sustainable jobs, in line with national strategies and plans for economic growth. The project operates on two main axes: i) Expansion of E4Impact partnerships; ii) Provision of training programs. The small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) selected by the Center will be sustained through technical support for  development of entrepreneurial and technical skills, with a special focus on young people and women.

The initiative is complementary to the 'Business Incubator and Energy Innovation in Kenya' project developed by the Catholic University ‘Sacro Cuore’ of Milan with the E4Impact Foundation and AVSI. The project is currently under implementation and is worth  2.3 million euros for a duration of three years. It aims at consolidating the E4Impact Accelerator, scaling up its activities and improving its infrastructure.

For more information you may contact:

Ms. Martina Bolognesi

Communications officer / Italian Agency for Development Cooperation

Ms. Kawira Bucyana

Officer in Charge

UNIDO field office in Kenya



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