At least 23 business mentors have completed the six-month post graduate course in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Business Mentoring run by the Regional Centre for Enterprise Development.
“The trained business mentors will generate structured advice and provide technical support on growth opportunities, possibilities of finances among other support services on a regular basis to entrepreneurs-especially young entrepreneurs,” IU Vice Chancellor Henry Thairu said.
Thairu was speaking during the graduation ceremony of the inaugural class on Friday. The graduates will go on to coach 115 mentees both in the formal and informal sectors.
Although SMEs play a significant role in anchoring the economy, such as in Kenya where the sector contributed over 50 percent of new jobs in 2005, on average SMEs have a very short shelf life.
Lack of planning, improper financing and poor management have been to blame for statistics such as three out of five SMEs folding within the first few months.
IU Chancellor F.T. Nyammo said the program is to ultimately enhance the SME sector by building the skill capacity of business mentors and mentees alike.
Nyammo, who is also the Tetu MP added that SMEs’ fundamental role in utilizing and adding value to local resources and demonstration of resilience in the face of economic difficulty, prompted him to move the current MSE Bill 2011 in parliament.
“This bill will once and for all provide sanity to this sector. It shall serve as a pillar for more structured engagement and originate an Authority that will oversee the development of the MSMEs of Kenya,” he said.
The Danish Embassy is one of the key partners of the IU business mentorship course, providing Sh60 million in funding for the program through the Danish Business Sector Programme Support II (BSPS II).
Danish Ambassador Geert Aagaard Andersen said BSPS II is being implemented from 2011 to 2015 and supports Kenya’s private sector, targeting young entrepreneurs.
“To achieve the development objective the programme has three components; improvement of the business environment component, competitiveness of MSMEs component and innovation and piloting green energy component,” he said.
Ambassador Andersen however stressed the need for the Kenyan government to foster a more business friendly environment for SMEs to thrive in.
“A further condition is putting a cap on government expenditure. Government expenditure is fundamental and now as we approach the election year it often is tempting for government to give out a little bit here. It will fuel inflation and hamper possibilities of becoming successful business people,” he asserted.
The Danish envoy went on decry the issues of high inflation and corruption, deeming them as hindrances in creating an environment conducive for economic growth.
IU joins other local higher learning institutions that have began incubator courses entrepreneurial capacity building programs such as Kenyatta University and Strathmore University.