Muteti also realised that too many people claim to be in the SME category yet they haven’t been registered. Some, he says, are “briefcase SMEs complete with non-existent directors”.
Muteti has assisted many groups get registered to enable them benefit from the many business schemes, but he says the Government needs to do more than registering SMEs.
“Although Kenya is way ahead of other nations in streamlining the informal sector, we would like to have a situation like that in India where there is a fully fledged ministry that deals with SME promotion. We are also lobbying the government to spend at least 25 per cent of its procurement budget in buying items from the informal sector,” says Muteti.
Muteti faults the country’s education system that only trains people to be employees rather than entrepreneurs. In contrast, India trains people first as entrepreneurs able to create businesses.
He is thankful to the president who has honoured all jua kali exhibitions with his presence and Parliament for favouring the registration of micro, small and medium enterprises.
Business smart from a young age
I was born in 1969 in Kibwezi, but schooled in Nairobi’s Jogoo Road Primary School. I went to Ofafa Jericho Secondary School in 1984 before joining Eastleigh High School in 1988 for Form Five and Six.
Life was difficult for my mother and I in the wooden house we lived in. To make ends meet, I used to save my bus fare and later lend to people who would pay with interest, the shylock style. I started a business with Sh400 and was so excited to earn money of my own. I constructed a small wooden house for myself. However, in the hurry to own a home in Nairobi, I forgot to put any window and only realised this when I moved in. However, there were spaces in between the wooden planks that served as ‘light holes’.
Thankfully, I was able to study at Mangalore University, India, where I graduated in 1993 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. I am currently pursuing an MBA at Copenhagen Business School in conjunction with Inoreero University.
I met my wife Caroline at a Salvation Army church function. She was playing the tambourine while I had come to assist my friends carry musical instruments for a competition in the same church. We had a small chat at lunch hour. She thought I was funny and I was attracted by her humility. She later went to Germany while I went to study in India. We communicated through letters.
We later got married and now have two daughters, Richelle, 15, and Davina, 14.