Local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) will have an opportunity to showcase their products to the world at the 2020 SME Expo set to kick off in Nairobi on Sunday.
The expo will bring together thousands of exhibitors to showcase local innovations, including those by the Jua Kali (informal) sector.
Organisers said Kenya hosting the summit is a sign of recovery in business activities and an improved policy environment as part of government efforts to see SMEs’ contribution to GDP increase from the current 30 per cent.
Despite the sector accounting for more than 80 per cent of all businesses in the country and create around 75 per cent of the jobs, it faces a myriad of challenges key among them limited access to credit.
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This has reduced their competitiveness and constrained their growth and sustainability.
Last month, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the establishment of a special fund for SMEs in what is expected to ease a cash crunch that had hamstrung small businesses for three years before the scrapping of the interest rate cap last year.
“Five commercial banks have set aside Sh10 billion to be lent to MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) at an interest rate of nine per cent per annum, in loan amounts ranging between Sh30,000 and Sh250,000,” said President Kenyatta in his state of the nation address.
The president’s at the same time ordered all pending bills for government supplies to be settled.
Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) president Richard Ngatia welcomed the president’s directive as well as the hosting of the SMEs Expo in Kenya.
“This was a most welcoming relief for our traders who were already facing soaring default penalties from their lenders and we thank the president for the timely move,” said Ngatia.
The lobby has embarked on a digitisation project of its most crucial source of income - the Certificate of Origin for importers. The move, Ngatia said, has resulted in increased revenue for the business lobby.
The chamber has also embarked on major recruitment and has seen over 10,000 new individual and corporate members enlist in the past six months.
“Some of the members such as the Jua Kali Association have hundreds of thousands registered individual members, putting our actual membership to over ten times the official numbers,” he said.