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Big boost for SMEs as KEBS steps in to ease operating challenges

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 11-Players in the local Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector are set to enjoy a raft of preferential benefits from the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KeBS) following the passing of a policy geared at supporting their growth.

A communique issued by KeBS Board Chairman Eng Bernard Ngore, confirms that among other benefits, MSMEs will now enjoy graduated costs for all services offered by the national standards body.

The graduated application of fees payable to Kebs, Eng Ngore said will help meet the needs of start-ups’ and upcoming entrepreneurs including Jua Kali business operators. They have previously been paying applicable rates at the same rate as established corporates.

Statistical data estimates that Kenya’s MSMEs contribute approximately 40percent of the GDP with the majority falling in the informal sector. 

Conscious of the challenges facing upcoming entrepreneurs including access to affordable financing options, the application of graduated fees, Eng Ngore who is also the chairman of the National Standards Council said will help promote standards compliance.

He added that KEBS would also foster Intellectual property (IP) use among MSMEs, increase IPR related skills through education and training, and make the overall IP system friendlier to MSMEs by streamlining procedures, adequately structuring fees and costs, improving litigation and enforcement mechanisms.

“At KEBS, we have heard our stakeholders and customers loud and clear, and we recognize that the MSME sector is disadvantaged in comparison to larger businesses and have undertaken to provide discounted rates and charges for players in the MSME sector,” Ngore said, adding that, “To facilitate MSME growth, we are also implementing a preferential treatment service for MSMEs on supervision and control for product certification and any other services provided they do not impact on the safety, health and environment.”

The new MSME policy by KEBS is envisioning a vibrant sector sustainably producing high quality products accessible to local and global markets that inspire consumer confidence and we shall provide them the necessary support to attain the goals outlined in the Big 4 Agenda. “This we shall undertake by providing a framework for enhanced focus on MSMEs in terms of preferred service provision, prioritization, collaboration and suitable and sustainable financial arrangements for the purpose of driving the MSME national agenda,” said Eng Ngore.

KEBS commitments to the MSME sector come hot on the heels of recent rapid result interventions undertaken by the standards body to cushion the industry from the impact of the pandemic. As part of a sector response, KeBS recently developed and availed eight standards relating to goods and services for the containment of Covid-19 pandemic and availed them to manufacturers free of charge on the KEBS website.

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Banking on technological advances in standards application, KEBS has also committed to supporting MSMEs to adopt ICT and adapt to the digital revolution by exploiting tech opportunities such as cloud computing and data analytics, among others. 

The extent of KeBS services offered to MSEs

KEBS shall provide services to the MSMEs for two of the three critical pillars of industry growth. This includes product development underwhich KEBS shall be involved in standardization of innovations by the MSMEs, technical advisory services through quality assurance activities, product testing and equipment calibration, training and inspection services. 

There is also product Market access under which KEBS provide product certification and system certification services to facilitate better market access of the MSMEs products and market surveillance to ensure a level playing ground for the MSMEs products in the market place.

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