University plan promises to transform Taita SMEs
1 months ago, 21 Maý 14:59
Over the years, the diaspora has emerged as an important segment in Kenya’s economic development. The country has therefore been looking for innovative ways to gain more from this sector which economic and financial experts say still has a huge untapped potential.
Realising the economic power they possess, Kenyans living abroad have also been seeking to come up with ingenious ways to invest back at home. This is how a group of Kenyans decided to set up a unique university, which not only provides education and conducts research as is the norm of any institution of higher learning, but that promises to transform the lives of thousands by creating jobs and promoting the existing SMEs while also encouraging the creation of new ones.
Through the building of the proposed Sh100 billion university in Taita Taveta County, SMEs will have a piece of the immense project by being awarded tenders to supply all kinds of materials.
Indeed the county is enthusiastic that the project will go a long way in changing the economic fortunes of a section of its population through the expansion of employment opportunities and affording small firms a golden chance to participate in the project.
Besides the contracts to supply raw materials and render an assortment of services, entrepreneurs will also benefit immensely from transfer of skills and experiences as they undertake the project.
The plan, which borrows heavily from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in the US, targets to create 500 new SMEs and 20,000 jobs in five years. While these looks overly ambitious, the project leaders say their forecasts are based on solid evidence from similar models of town universities elsewhere.
“The university town model is not new. Amherst Town in Massachusetts that President Uhuru Kenyatta studied at and where one of our founders, Prof. Philliph Mutisya of North Carolina Central University went to, is a university town,” says Dan Kamau who heads the site development office in Voi.
Another example, he says is Ann Arbor city that is home to the University of Michigan that has a population of 120,000 residents, with 45,000 students.
The investors’ desire to embed SMEs in the project is motivated by the need to generate shared wealth and prosperity within and in the precincts of the planned institution.
The establishment of the university also involves setting up 6,000 residential units, presenting huge opportunities for small businesses which are the project’s priority.
“The approved plan is for a university that can accommodate 30,000 students and 90,000 residents on 3,000 acres of land,” says Mr Kamau.
The university model, he says is based on WPI project-based learning approach which brings together SMEs, education investors as well as property developers, town planners and designers, among other players. “We call it university town because the ratio of students to residents will be one student to three residents,” Mr Kamau says.
More opportunities also lie in wait from the way the university conducts its learning, which incorporates WPI project-based research and innovation.
“Over 1,000 persons have so far expressed interest to be part of ...
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