Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are rooting for a level playing ground in the country to pull the sector out of challenges such as high costs and limited access to funding.
At a two-day day SME conference and exposition that concludes today in Nairobi, key SME players said a quick resolution to such challenges would help small firms transition into established entities.
The forum was convened by the Nation Media Group (NMG) and the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) with more than 80 SMEs in attendance.
Interior Secretary Fred Matiangi said it was unfortunate that many SMEs continued to miss out on funding despite the government having provided channels such as as Stawi loans and MasterCard Foundation funding.
“It is true we have a credit squeeze but we are also awash with money for the SME sector and will continue to ring-fence more for this sector. However, uptake of these resources has to be accelerated through information sharing,” said Dr Matiangi.
NMG Chairman Wilfred Kiboro said SMEs play a key role in multiple sectors such as banking, finance and agribusiness but have not scaled up due to challenges in the regulatory environment.
He cited challenges such as limited capital, insufficient managerial capacity, corruption, and high taxes that stand in the way.
“We have to create an environment that can help MSMEs graduate into SMEs and then into big corporates. Let us encourage entrepreneurs to enter manufacturing because it has immense opportunities,” said Mr Kiboro.
The national government is also working with counties on cutting cess and levies as part of the plan to harmonise regulations and make it easier for small entities to thrive in such areas.
Dr Matiangi said that his ministry has been working on a list of 100 goods that government would start buying directly from local manufacturers, especially the SMEs.
“We have also been looking at public procurement and disposal law to ensure that we can provide an opportunity to ring-fence procurement by government from local service providers,” he said.
By PATRICK ALUSHULA