BY PETER KOMBE
Small and Medium-sized Enterprises SMEs directly contributes 85 percent of employment opportunities throughout the country, Invest In Africa country director Wangechi Muriuki has confirmed.
According to the director over 7.5 million SME’s operate informally.
She adds that due to this challenge SME’s cannot compete with big business entities.
“This forum is aimed at enhancing information in order to create awareness. This is a platform to showcase businesses and engage,” she said.
Speaking at the sidelines of an SME engagement forum in a Mombasa hotel on Wednesday Ms Muriuki said their (SMEs) informal nature makes them locked out of vast economic opportunities.
The forum was attended by over 40 SMEs across the six counties in the Coast region.
“We have several SMEs from Tana River, Kwale Taita Taveta Mombasa and Kilifi.” she explained.
Mombasa County executive in charge of Trade and Investment Fawz Rashid says the department is intending to conduct a research study of the SME’s industry.
According to him the study will assist in developing business policies geared at enhancing economic growth within the county.
“We have been working closely with the Kenya Association of Manufacturers and the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry to promote local products,” he explained.
The CEC pointed that the county government has digitized most businesses to facilitate service delivery to the locals.
He says the digitization of businesses has not only lessened the cost to SMEs but also deterred corruption.
Said Fawz “SMEs have contributed to creation of employment opportunities not in Mombasa County alone but the entire region as a whole,”
Mackson Mwango, Base Titanium Finance and Administration Manager says lack of information still remains a challenge for SMEs in accessing finance.
He however says for any business to thrive communication is key.
According to him the company is committed to venture into business with focused and determined small and medium sized entities.
He says the company has jointly partnered with other business entities in the region with a view of boosting economic growth.
He explained “We want to see how best we can work with SMEs. Communication is crucial,”
Women and Girls Empowerment Team leader Linda Shume says most SME’s work in the Coast region operate as a monopoly.
According to her this has hindered information sharing amongst various business organizations.
“There is need to create linkages and partnerships as business entities. Some SMEs take too long repay the funds,” she noted.
She added that the period between application and access of finance by SMEs is too long.
Johnson Nzai, an entrepreneur from Watamu cites a locked mindset, lack of finance and capital as a major setback amongst Coast locals.
He says business environment in unconducive for a good number of SMEs.
“How shall we stem down the bureaucracy that has been witnessed for a long time in this region? This is a major hindrance to most business oriented minds” he said.
Nzai further alleges existence of bureaucracy and an elaborate business policy before one ventures into business.