SMEs to get Sh5 billion in State funding

Some of the stalls at Maasai market located along Kenyatta Avenue in Nakuru town. [Photo: Standard]
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) could gain access to much-needed capital as the Government rolls out a Sh5 billion entrepreneurship project.

This will be made possible after the World Bank approved earlier this year a Sh5 billion line of credit for supporting the country’s SMEs under the Kenya Industry and Entrepreneurship Project (KIEP).

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives yesterday embarked on the search for a project manager and monitoring and evaluation expert for the project expected to start in the next financial year.

“The consulting services include the provision of project management and administration services for an initial period of two years, with the possibility of extension for another four years based on satisfactory performance,” reads a notice from the Trade Ministry, inviting bids.

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Tertiary institutions

The project will provide support for 30 incubators, accelerators of hubs that provide incubation and acceleration for start-ups as well as directly fund 162 high-potential startups to participate in international entrepreneurship programmes.

The project will also provide 250 SMEs in the trade and manufacturing sectors, with additional finance and capacity building to access international markets. Seven tech boot camp providers and 640 students in tertiary institutions will also receive support from the project.   

The Government said it would borrow lessons of similar initiatives in the past and adopt a strategic approach to reach those most in need of support.

“We will engage an independent consultant to help us identify high-potential start-ups and entrepreneurs and conduct a needs assessment of their specific needs to identify the amount of support they need to achieve their next growth phase,” explained Steve Maina, an official at the Industrialisation and Enterprise Development Ministry.

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Other Government initiatives in the past meant to boost small, medium and micro enterprises have been dogged by controversy.

In 2011, the World Bank-funded Kazi kwa Vijana youth entrepreneurship project was scuttled after a forensic audit revealed officials had pilfered millions from the Sh4.3 billion grant.

The World Bank has introduced a performance-based component in the latest round of financing that will determine the level of support given to the beneficiaries.

About Sh11.2 billion will be disbursed in the first tranche in the next financial year, with the remainder released over the next five years.

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