, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 9 – The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) and Capital Group have partnered to launch an innovative and empowering platform for Small and Medium enterprises.
The Learn, Network and Grow (LNG) project aims to build the capacity of entrepreneurs and drive SMEs towards sustainability through a series of workshops and expos in eight regions across the country.
The regional workshops will culminate in a grand conference and expo in Nairobi that will include a series of seminars and networking events.
LNG – which was born out of the need to address growth constraints – will create new opportunities to network and markets for entrepreneurs at the county and regional level.
A Kenya National Bureau of Statistics report revealed Kenya’s 2.2 million Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) shut down in the last five years including 2016, with SMEs in wholesale and retail trade, repair of vehicles and motorcycles sector hardest hit.
The main reason cited for business closure was shortage of operating funds owing to increased operating expenses, declining income and losses incurred from businesses.
Apart from credit, other challenges faced by these MSMEs include lack of markets and local competition.
The Chairman of the KNCCI, Kiprono Kittony, says LNG will focus on capacity building, partnerships with county governments and the advocacy agenda.
“SMEs are really the driving engine of the world’s economy and they contribute 99 percent of the Chinese economy and 60 percent of China’s GDP. The role of the SMEs in the US, UK, in Germany, India, Brazil, Malaysia, Korea, South Korea and all the strong economies is because they have developed an environment that SMEs can be nurtured in,” says Kittony.
Speaking at the launch of LNG in Nairobi, Capital Group Managing Director Cyrus Kamau, said SMEs have the potential to create more jobs and drive innovation if well facilitated and empowered.
“Our role as the media is to champion those issues (SMEs face) that propagate the growth of this sector that would bring positive change to our economy,” said Kamau. Together with KNCCI, we felt it is
“Together with KNCCI, we felt it is time we dealt with a category of business (that) once given more of impetus, would be the driving force in changing the fortunes of our Kenyan Republic.”
A key component of LNG is creating structures and building blocks for business owners to do business with county and national government, a point Capital Group Chairman Dr. Chris Kirubi emphasized.
Kirubi said the Government’s policy of Buy-Kenya-Build-Keny, which gives local producers a 40 percent preferential quota in all government supplies, is enough to create many small and medium enterprises.
“You should ask yourself; what are you producing to supply to the government? The Government is the biggest consumer so this a huge opportunity,” said Kirubi.
Kirubi also said theWe need to support each other so that the smaller SMEs can supply the medium SMEs, who can then supply big corporations and multinationals, and that way, we grow the economy,” said Kirubi.