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Kenya SMEs to get global exposure

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 29- Local Small and Medium Enterprises will now benefit from technological know-how, assets and finances from other developed countries in order to enable them graduate into bigger businesses.

This follows the signing of a working agreement between the Kenya Investment Authority and the Chinese South-South Global Technology Assets and Equity Exchange with the purpose of linking up SMEs with their counterparts abroad.

KenInvest Managing Director Susan Kikwai said on Tuesday that the partnership would not only help to improve people’s livelihoods but also consolidate the cooperation that Kenya has with the various development partners.

“These are people that are willing to come in and help our tomato farmers to process their crops to tomato paste or sauce by bringing in partners not just from China but any part of the world who know how to do it best,” she said adding that it would go a long way in assisting various sectors to add value to their products.

The entrepreneurial spirit in Kenya is alive with 95 percent of local businesses being in the micro, small and medium enterprises. However, there’s consensus that with the right incentives, these firms have the potential to become big companies that can contribute greatly towards economic development.

The South-South Global Technology Assets and Equity Exchange is a United Nations Development Fund Programme sponsored initiative that is also supported by the Chinese Industry and Chamber of Commerce with the view to creating a platform where technologically-endowed countries can share their expertise with the rest of the less developed countries.

For Kenya, the Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the Minister of State, for Planning, National Development and Vision 2030 Wycliffe Oparanya who then appointed KenInvest as the implementing agency.

With the signing out of the way, the Programme’s Operations Director Fang Jianguo said they would embark on an exercise to scout for the various demands that local firms have which would in turn inform the areas in which they would call Chinese investors’ attention to.

“Through the help of KenInvest, we hope to learn more about the conditions in Kenya so that we can screen the projects and be able to match them with investors who can inject money into their businesses,” said Mr Jianguo through a translator.

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The partners will not necessarily come from China but other countries where the programme is being implemented so as to ensure the effective transfer of technological innovations that can enable Kenya to catch up with the rest of world.

With this project underway, the Authority hopes that the ‘jua kali’ or informal sector which employs over 70 percent of the country’s labour force will contribute more to the country’s export market.

The initiative will complement several projects that the Authority has been undertaking such as the business development services through which it is trying to reach out to the SMEs.

Further, it will go hand in hand with the Constituency Industrial Development Centres through which the government hopes to nurture upcoming businesses.

The business incubation project that is being championed by the Industrialisation Ministry has already been piloted in 60 constituencies and they are plans to further extend them to all parts of the country as it gears up for the implementation of the devolved government.

All these measures will come together to improve the country’s investment climate and enable it to attain an economic growth of 10 percent as envisaged in Vision 2030.

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