Grab the moment, SMEs urged

May 27, 2009

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 28 – Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SME) are being urged to take advantage of the global economic slump as a launch pad into the international markets.

 International Finance Corporation (IFC) Senior Operations Officer Daniel Kanyi says the financial crisis could create an opportunity for SMEs in Africa to be significant players in the global supply chain.

“African SMEs can take advantage and supply the global chain with goods they use to source elsewhere where companies have shut down because they may find it cheaper to access from African countries,” Mr Kanyi said.

 He however noted that this could only become possible if the SMEs operate their business effectively and efficiently.

 He said IFC has so far worked with seven business schools in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Tanzania to train over 400 smaller businesses to become more profitable and globally competitive.
Mr Kanyi informed a press briefing in Nairobi that the training was done as part of the Enterprise Development Services Program, which works with business schools to develop courses aimed at helping small and medium enterprises in filling gaps in their management skills.

“The goal of the program is to sharpen the management skills of businessmen and women and to enhance the competitiveness of their businesses,” he said.

Fifty of the businesses trained are in Kenya.

The management training program was piloted in Lagos, Nigeria, before being expanded to other countries in Africa.

Director EDS Pan African University Nigeria Peter Bamkole said the main aim of the program is to ensure SMEs grow.

“In Africa we see SMEs as people who run small businesses and they die small, but this should not be the case,” he said. Mr Bamkole said the aim of the program is to make enterprises grow as big as their counterparts in America and Europe.

“Let them come to us as small enterprises but once they go through this course in the next 2 to 3 years they should start thinking big,” he observed.

 Mr Bamkole revealed that a survey carried out by IFC indicated that though SMEs represent 78 percent of the small businesses in the African region; they do not contribute to even 10 percent of the regions GDP.

“Yet in the western countries, Small and Medium Enterprises contribute to at lest 40 percent of their country’s GDP, which means there is something we are missing in Africa,” Mr Bamkole said.

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