Following a successful debut in Lagos, the commercial hub of Africa’s largest economy, American multinational conglomerate GE is taking its “Garages” skills building program to Nairobi, the nexus of East Africa’s fastest growing economy. The US firm, in partnership with local shared manufacturing platform Gearbox, said it is launching the GE Garages to provide training, drive awareness and generate interest in the value of advanced hardware and technology. The program, which also draws support from the University of Nairobi, Technical University of Kenya and Seven Seas Technologies, is aimed at creating sustainable skills and job growth in Kenya—objectives which it is already achieving in Nigeria where it was piloted last year.
In December 2014, the GE garages in Lagos graduated 28 local entrepreneurs whom it had offered a six-week training course on product development, entrepreneurship, sales, marketing and advanced manufacturing. The course involved learning first-hand from world-class instructors, successful investors and technical experts, as well as using the latest manufacturing technologies, such as 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC mills and others. So successful was the programme that GE partnered with the Dangote Foundation to make it a year-round series of skills building programmes. The same enthusiasm is taking the US firm to Kenya which has just as much budding entrepreneurs and innovators.
“We are delighted to collaborate with like-minded establishments on an initiative that aims to make more Kenyan youth employable in a fast changing technology-driven world” said Jay Ireland, the president and CEO of GE Africa in a press release that announced the Nairobi launch. “I’m looking forward to seeing great ideas that come to the GE Garage being transformed into practical business models that ultimately create more jobs in Kenya. Gearbox’s CEO, Kamau Gachigi, was equally as excited. “The provision of a GE Garage at Gearbox is essential to developing a continuous pipeline of people skilled in modern technologies and prepared to deliver tech solutions through business, who will serve as the “army” that will enable industrialization on the scale that is required for our national development,” he enthused.
The Garages training facility will be within the Nairobi location of Gearbox. GE would provide the necessary equipment while the University of Nairobi, Technical University of Kenya and Seven Seas Technologies will provide input to program as well as training facilities. The programme would also most likely extend to other parts of the continent as GE continues its Empower Africa campaign. GE’s approach to investing in our communities is to empower people by building valuable skills, equip communities with new tools and technology, and elevate ideas that help solve Africa’s challenges, said Patricia Obozuwa, GE Africa’s Director of Communications and Public Affairs. We will continue working with Government, institutions, communities and private-sector peers to help bring sustainable and transformative development.