NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 16 – The Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) together with the Acumen Fund has set up a Sh16 million grant to be channelled into the medium and small enterprise sector.
The money will be used to fund the East Africa Fellows Program to offer leadership training to players in the sector.
Speaking during the signing of the agreement, KCB Group Managing Director Martin Oduor-Otieno said that while the SME sector remains a key driver of economic growth, many businesses lacked the business leadership expertise to ensure they remain sustainable.
Mr Oduor-Otieno said that even as the segment continues to receive funding to help it grow, little had been done to grow the managerial skills required to keep businesses afloat past the first three years.
"You might think you are doing a great thing by throwing money at something but if you can\’t sustain it because you haven\’t built the right leadership structures then it\’s almost a waste of money," Mr Oduor-Otieno said.
The Acumen Fund is a pioneering social venture fund that is changing how the world addresses poverty. It invests long-term capital in business models that deliver critical, affordable goods and services to the world\’s poor with the aim of improving millions of lives.
The fund will be handled by the KCB Foundation, which in collaboration with Acumen identify 20 emerging leaders gathered from the region to receive high quality training in leadership and social change development.
KCB Foundation Chairperson Susan Omanga said the program would build an entrepreneurial pool of talented leaders with strong financial skills to boost growth of the sector that will have greater impact on the economy.
Where possible we will finance business ideas under the bank\’s bottom of the pyramid loan program through micro loan, grace loans or any loan they are comfortable with," Ms Omanga said.
Acumen Fund Director for East Africa Biju Mohandas said each participant in the inaugural class of the East Africa Fellows program would have to be driving a project with large social impact either inside their organization or as an entrepreneurial venture.
"The fellows will have a track record of leadership in the business, government or non-profit sectors and are passionate about increasing their social impact. Fellows will have a demonstrated commitment to social change in East Africa, or have a project with large social impact that they are leading," Mr Mohandas.
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