The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) President Richard Ngatia has reiterated the importance of the Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises in the business community as the fourth annual SMEs Conference and Expo kicked off yesterday at the KICC.
KNCCI hosted the conference in collaboration with the Nation Media Group (NMG), the Ministry of Co-operatives & MSME Development, the Ministry of Investments, Trade and Industry, and the Micro & Small Enterprises Authority (MSEA).
The three-day exhibition and conference commenced today 15th March to 17th March under the theme ‘Accelerating the MSMEs growth through adoption of technology and innovation ‘, the conference will provide a platform to articulate issues affecting SMEs by taking part in discussions, opinions, and policies for the growth and development of the SME sector.
Ngatia, who was the Chief Guest, highlighted that Kenya has been actively promoting the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through various initiatives, including the establishment of digital hubs and innovation centers. He noted that it’s important to create an enabling environment that supports digital businesses in Kenya. This will not only create jobs and economic opportunities but also contribute to the development of a vibrant and innovative digital ecosystem.
As a country, we have made tremendous strides in creating an enabling environment for SMEs to thrive. However, there is still a lot that needs to be done to support the growth and development of SMEs in Kenya.
The KNCCI Chief Executive Officer Mr. Patrick Nyangweso officiated the morning program, in his welcoming remarks appreciated all the key players in organizing the conference noting that SMEs are important actors in the national transition process, as they play a crucial role in fostering income equality and enhancing economic development.
He highlighted that the private sector encourages policies to support better business environments and regulatory issues, and promote entrepreneurship, and innovation initiatives i.e digital economy for the growth and betterment of SMEs.
KNCCI National Director, Mr. Pravin S. Eazhawa represented the organization in a panel discussion under the topic “SME transformation and digital economy”. Mr. Pravin highlighted the evolution of technology since 1972 noting that there has been growth in the uptake and usage of technology by large organizations. SMEs in Kenya are gradually taking up the digital space however; the adoption is majorly in urban areas and urged the government to work together with the private sector to trickle down the services to rural areas to enhance the digital space countrywide.
The Event was attended by NMG Group Chief Executive Officer Mr. Stephen Gitagama, The Kenya National Federation of Jua Kali Associations, and CEO Mr. Richard Muteti.
The Exhibiting companies are; Kenya Industrial Estates, Kenic, Stima Sacco, Bank of Baroda(K)Ltd, I Choose Life, Tally Solutions, Thika Cloth Mills Limited, Star Discover Insurance, Simpet Global Logistics Ltd, Kerio Valley Development Authority, Scalestech, Bandari Sacco Ltd, Ikomali, Minet, Capex Life Assurance
KNCCI has in its mandate undertaken a couple of initiatives to support SMEs which include offering business development services to SMEs, including training, mentorship, and business advisory. The services are designed to equip SMEs with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in today’s competitive business environment.
At the same time, KNCCI has advanced its economic diplomacy mandate by maintaining a mutual working relationship with foreign embassies for business exchange and trade promotion. In September 2022 KNCCI hosted the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Nairobi Committee in order to actively promote trade relations between Kenya and the ASEAN countries.
Malaysia is one of the ASEAN countries, Kenya National Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KNCCI) in collaboration with the High Commission of Kenya in Malaysia, the County Government of Bomet, the State Department for Investments Promotion and Industry, Kenya Investment Authority and My Events International organized a business forum that took place today Monday 13th March 2023 at Pride Inn Hotel, Westlands.
The business forum was attended by both Kenyan and Malaysian business counterparts in various sectors to facilitate business matchmaking and networking.
The High Commissioner of Kenya to Malaysia H.E Amb Francis Muhoro in his opening remarks appreciated the mutual diplomatic relationship between Kenya and Malaysia. He stated that Kenya is a key market for Malaysia while pointing out that there is significant potential for the two countries to expand bilateral trade and investments. He explained there are immense opportunities for both countries in agro-processing, value addition, manufacturing, and tourism.
Representing the Council of Governors and the County Government of Bomet, Governor H.E Prof Hillary Barchok in his remarks stated that Malaysia is a gateway to Asia and the business forum would pave the way for new opportunities and investments between the two countries.
Ngatia stated that the business forum presents a unique opportunity for our governments and businesses to work together in fostering trade and investment partnerships in various sectors, including agriculture, healthcare, higher education, manufacturing, and trade.
The agriculture sector. According to the World Bank, agriculture accounts for 24% of Kenya’s GDP and employs over 75% of the population. This presents a significant opportunity for collaboration in research and development, technology transfer, and investment in the value chain.
In Kenya, the healthcare sector has seen significant growth over the years, with the government investing heavily in the provision of quality healthcare services.
Similarly, Malaysia has made substantial progress in this sector, ranking highly in the Global Medical Tourism Index. There is enormous potential for collaboration in areas such as health research, telemedicine, and medical equipment manufacturing.
Similarly, in the higher education sector, businesses can benefit from the transfer of knowledge and skills, research collaborations, and the development of industry-specific programs.
In the manufacturing sector, According to the World Bank, manufacturing accounts for 11% of Kenya’s GDP, while in Malaysia, the manufacturing sector accounts for 22% of its GDP. There is enormous potential for collaboration ranging from investment in industrial parks, technology transfer, and the establishment of joint ventures.
The Principal Secretary of, the State Department for Investments Promotion and Industry Mr. Abubakar Hassan in his remarks stated that the government is working towards improving legislation to enhance the ease of doing business in Kenya and urged Malaysian business people to invest in Kenya through joint ventures and gave them the assurance that Kenya is a safe investment hub.
Acting MD of the Kenya Investment Authority Ms. June Chepkemei gave a presentation on the business environment and investment opportunities in Kenya. Trade relations indicate that Kenya is the leading trade partner and major export destination for Malaysian Products. According to the United Nations COMTRADE database, Kenya’s Total Exports amounted to US$ 16.77 Million while Imports amounted to US$ 855.10 Million in 2021.
Major Exports include; Titanium Ores, Tea, Processed Food, textile articles, tobacco products, vegetables, fruits, and nuts.