President William Ruto of Kenya has officially announced that the Startup Bill 2022, designed to create job opportunities for Kenyan youth and provide tax breaks for startups, is underway to be signed into law by April 2024.
The revelation came during the Kenya Innovation Week (KIW), where the president and other government officials were in attendance. Ruto spoke on the positive impact of the legislation, stating that it will assist innovators in transforming their creations into sustainable businesses while decreasing risks.
The Startup Bill has been under consideration in the Senate since 2021, initially introduced by the current Nairobi governor, Johnson Sakaja. After its first reading in February 2023, the bill is currently undergoing further discussions in the Senate. The proposed legislation aims to offer incentives, including tax breaks, to registered startups.
Additionally, it envisions creating a platform for startups to access information on resources and support, along with plans for a credit guarantee scheme to provide financial support and training for startup growth.
If passed, the Startup Bill will establish a legal framework to promote tech growth and foster innovation, while attracting talent and capital. The roles assigned to both national and county governments involve promoting innovation, facilitating tech transfer, creating jobs and wealth, and connecting research institutions with businesses.
Noting the challenge posed by unemployment, particularly among the youth, President Ruto also highlighted the vital role played by startups in job creation. Despite the SME sector employing over 80% of the youth annually, sustaining small businesses remains a challenge, with nearly 75% closing shortly after being established.
President Ruto also acknowledged the contributions Kenyan youth made to sustain the country, noting that “the youth continue to sustain innovation in our economy, with youth-driven startups securing $700 million last year.”
The signing of the Startup Bill is anticipated to provide a significant boost to the startup ecosystem in Kenya, fostering economic growth and addressing youth unemployment challenges.