President Ruto moves to actualise pet campaign agenda by creating ministry to cater for 'hustlers'

Simon Chelugui.  [David Njaaga, Standard]

President William Ruto has moved to actualise his pet agenda of helping hustlers by creating a ministry whose function will be to deal with matters of small businesses.

The President named Simon Chelugui the Cabinet Secretary for Co-operatives and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development.

Ruto rose to the presidency on the agenda of helping small businesses through a bottom-up approach that would see them facilitated with cheap credit, lower taxes and generally a friendlier business environment.

Ruto made a point of contrasting the bottom-up approach to what he insisted was the prevailing trickle-down economics that gives incentives to bigger businesses who in return are expected to pass down the benefits to small businesses and workers.

Kenya’s economy is largely informal, with a 2015 survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) showing that there were about 5.85 million unlicensed micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Another 1.56 million, the survey showed, were licensed MSMEs, businesses that have less than 100 employees.

In his campaign, the president promised to set up a 'hustler fund' of Sh200 billion. He also promised to give Sh100 million per constituency every year for development projects. With 290 constituencies, this translates into an annual spending bill of Sh29 billion.

“We will allocate that amount to the mama mboga, wheelbarrow pushers and cart pullers,” he said.

Ruto took his bottom-up crusade to New York. In his speech at the United Nations General Assembly, he urged global leaders to build back better “by augmenting it, in word and in deed, with an additional “B”: Building Back Better from the Bottom.

“Building back better from the bottom upwards is, essentially, about including the marginalised working majority in the economic mainstream.

"The bottom billion relentlessly wage their daily battle for survival in a crowded arena characterised by scarcity of opportunity and generally precarious existence,” said Ruto.

The role will now fall on the shoulders of Chelugui, who was the Labour CS in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government. 

“The ingenuity, optimism, resilience, and energy in this ever-bustling bottom is sometimes called hustling,” said Ruto.

He noted that these hustlers are invisible to policymakers and beyond the reach of many public services, and explained that they take nothing for granted, surviving overwhelming odds, and frequently succeeding greatly.

“A famous American once said that things may come to those who wait, but only things left behind by those who hustle. It is time to bolster the resilience of our nations; to mainstream these hustlers through deliberate strategies and efforts for economic inclusion; by Building Back Better from the Bottom-Up.”

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