[Kenya] World Bank approves $50 million to boost SMEs
The World Bank has approved a $50 million International Development Association credit to increase scale innovation and productivity amongst Kenya’s enterprises.
The Kenya Industry and Entrepreneurship project (KIEP) is expected to benefit some 33,050 individuals and 2,393 firms. It will support the ambitious development targets outlined in Kenya’s Big Four development agenda and Vision 2030 that require significant growth in private sector jobs and overall productivity.
The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives, through the Kenya Industrial Transformation Program, prioritizes technology and innovation as the cornerstone for national industry development and the role that private sector firms play in driving Kenya’s industrialization.
“We are committed to supporting Kenya in creating employment and business opportunities as part of the county’s wider strategy to fast-track economic growth,” said Diarietou Gaye, World Bank Country Director for Kenya. “While Kenya remains a top innovation leader in Africa, it still ranks 80th out of 127 countries in the 2017 Global Innovation Index and we are partnering with Kenya as it works to improve its human capital, technology and knowledge outputs.”
Currently, Kenya lacks the adequate skills that can produce a solid pool of internationally competitive, technology enabled businesses. SMEs, which are key drivers of the economy, face difficulties in improving their productivity due to poor managerial practices and information failures around how to upgrade.
The country also has limited contact between traditional industry and technology enabled startups; a missed opportunity for both sides. Kenya’s other challenge includes limited connections to networks of international mentors, angel investors, and venture capitalists all of which make it difficult for local startups and SMEs to grow and compete internationally.
For Kenyan women entrepreneurs, particularly those who own startups and SMEs; all these challenges are even more pronounced.
“In today’s fast-paced, globalized economy, start-up driven innovation is key for economic development as it creates new jobs for the growing youth demographic,” said Elena Gasol Ramos, Senior Private Sector Specialist and Task Team Leader. “By strengthening technology incubators and accelerators, the Kenya Industry and Entrepreneurship Project will directly benefit 250 SMEs, 640 students, 15 corporates, 162 startups, 30 technology hubs and 7 technology bootcamp providers.”