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It is October and the German city of Berlin is hosting ‘Oktoberfest’. It is also hosting what may be viewed as a “fringe” event for the beer revelers but an important one for health care entrepreneurs.
On the 23rd the “1st German-African Healthcare Symposium” will be held there. The gathering brings together industry players and health sector stakeholders to analyse and discuss the challenges facing Africa’s health care systems, the opportunities available for German and Kenyan companies in the sector and how private businesses can benefit from this.
Over the last few years, the enormous potential Africa holds in terms of new markets for companies and expansion for those already here is drawing interest in the West. This is perhaps what is encouraging such gatherings.
The conference follows up on a series of similar local and international events. While many have been held, measurable outcomes have always been the problem. It is important that after the conference when we look back a year later we should quantify both the number of partnerships, financing… that arose from the event.
While a range of issues will be discussed, we should be hopeful that small entrepreneurs’ needs will be accommodated. The discussions should also factor in the needs and desires of small enterprises that are common in our country on a business to business arrangement.
As an example, Pedro, a small distributor of dental accessories, wrote to me enquiring about the opportunity to sell dental spares. The answer to his question is that until enough German dental units are on the ground his firm may not have a ready market.
This endpoint that should be aimed at selling complementary goods by facilitating local access to “entry” products. For entrepreneurs in the health sector, the greatest issue on the ground is how financing of infrastructure and capital intensive equipment can be done.
As an industrial leader in science, biotechnology and medicine, Germany is home to many medical manufacturing firms, pharmaceuticals and other similar products. However, an analysis of local health care facilities paints a different picture.
A few such facilities have the “Made in Germany” emblem. The quality of German products while acknowledged to be of high standards, is associated with similarly high prices. This locks out many small enterprises and start-ups.
An unwritten rule in health care equipment purchase is that invariably products from the East will be the entry product for many starting out because of their relatively lower pricing. Present day commerce and shareholding in corporations, however, means German companies may be domiciled in China and trade as Chinese entities.
For Kenyans attending the event, one item that we should impress on the German side of this proposed bilateral trade is finance facilitation. It is no secret that access to credit is both easier and cheaper in the West than locally.
Can these funds be made available to local entrepreneurs to purchase German equipment or to make them competitively priced compared to the East?
– Daily Nation