[Kenya Business Week] Breathing new life into SMEs
Small and medium sized businesses in Kenya represents 75 per cent of the country's workforce, constitute 98 percent of all businesses in Kenya and contribute 3 percent to the national purse. But they struggle with a host of challenges that have hampered their growth. This week, the government, led by President Uhuru Kenyatta, has announced that it will streamline its processes so that it accords SMEs the support they need while addressing challenges like energy and high cost of doing business.
Previous initiatives have largely been driven by the privae sector and development partners. Notable institutions include World Bank, Kenya Bankers Association, Kenya National Chamber of Commerce, Mastercard and General Motorsamong others. This, as studies show that SMEs can contribute up to 80 per cent of jobs in an emerging economy such as Kenya.
In the corporate scene, Safaricom, Kenya Commercial Bank and Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) are the top three companies with best corporate governance practices among listed companies in Kenya according to a Cytonn Corporate Governance Report recently released. The International Finance Corporation and the Capital Markets Authority have been investing heavily in training to familiarize directors and issuers with the Code of Corporate Governance Practices for Issuers of Securities to the Public as demand for accountability among companies grows.
In the financial markets, Kenya was ranked among three top countries in the Absa Africa Financial Markets Index supported by strong financial market infrastructure and a robust legal framework. Kenya has previously been ranked high in the continent on economic growth, ease of doing business, risk reward, investment and financial inclusion.
This week, Google announced a Sh100 million grant to train more than 100,000 Kenyan smallholder farmers in digital skills. as it seeks to modernize farming. Safaricom has previously rolled out similar initiatives including Connected Farmer and DigiFarm Depot which has excited farmers especially in areas like Meru.
In energy, UNICEF, in collaboration with Kilifi and Garissa counties, have recruited Energy 4 Impact in an institutional advisory capacity to support the implementation of Kenya’s Energy and Cash Plus pilot project. This comes weeks after a clean energy NGO, Energy 4 Impact awarded the National Oil Corporation of Kenya $50,000 to design a non-wood cooking concession that could increase usage of LPG cooking gas to refugees. A clean energy revolution has been taking shape in Kenya is being driven by citizens and institutions as appetite for renewable energy rises to new highs.
Food and beverage company Nestle announced this week that it had recorded a 50 per cent reduction in the consumption of water per ton of product for the last three years at its Nairobi factory, occasioned by a cocktail of low cost water conservation measures it has been employing. This is one of the sustainable practices the company has employed in the recent past with others including renewing commitment to Kenyan coffee farmers through training, launching a training programme to equip pediatric and midwifery nurses with knowledge and skills in the ‘First 1000 Days’ of a child’s life and a primary school nutrition programme in Embu County.
GE Healthcare and the Society of Radiography in Kenya (SORK) also this week announced a 2-year partnership to train a minimum of 140 radiographers on the latest medical imaging technologies and techniques. It has previously trained cardiac health professionals in the country and delivered $450million to develop a medical campus.