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SMEs educated on staying competitive

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 29 – Local SMEs got a crash-course in staying competitive and relevant in the growing Kenyan market as part of HP’s CEO Breakfast Programme on Friday.

The programme that drew CEO’s from various established and fledgling companies explored the ways Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) can stay ahead of the pack through the use of technology.

With the SME sector employing close to 80 percent of Kenya’s total workforce, HP East Africa Managing Director Ken Mbwaya said it is important that SMEs harness the power of technology to become viable companies in the future.

“We’ve seen significant growth; the SME segment has doubled for us year over year. We expect to see that continue to grow. Our objective is to work with them to stretch them to use technology to even accelerate that growth,” he said.

Innovations, such as Cloud technologies that deliver hosted services over the Internet, Mr Mbwaya said, will help SMEs work more efficiently outside of traditional workspaces and achieve more.

“Today we are able to deliver servers in hybrid form so you can either have it on premise or you can have it in the cloud. We are encouraging SMEs to embrace these new emerging technologies so that they can take advantage of cloud-based services.”

In light of the current drought crisis plaguing the country, Mr Mbwaya encouraged SMEs to not look at their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) departments as just a charity arm of the company, but as a solution-finding tool to social problems.

“We do not see CSR as just social responsibility we see it as a business opportunity by really turning our innovative eye to social problems. We create new business opportunities. We believe social problems create social opportunities,” he said.

HP has embarked on some social innovation projects here in Kenya, including a technology for disease prevention surveillance, using mobile phones, launched with the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation.

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“You are able to tell how many cases of malaria were treated yesterday from wherever you are. The objective is to reduce preventable diseases to a minimum. We are working on a new printing technology that will enable us to send results for HIV into remote places via GSM technology,” said Mr Mbwaya.

The HP Foundation also donated $150,000 (Sh13.6 million) to Medecins Sans Frontieres to address the hunger situation in the Horn of Africa.

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