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State injects Sh500m to lift Kariobangi artisans

By Moses Michira | February 17th 2016
Industrialisation CS Adan Mohamed (left) at Dallas Sports International in Kariobangi, Nairobi. [PHOTO: COURTESY]

Kariobangi Light Industries, Kenya’s most prominent informal manufacturing hub, has been granted Sh500 million for new equipment to support innovators.

It is expected that new machinery would hasten the turnaround for incubation of manufacturing ideas such as the hugely successful Muharata – which has grown to be the biggest maker of posho mills in the region.

 Industrialisation, Trade and Investment Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed has said the new funding for the incubation centre will spur the contribution of small businesses in job creation and the economy.

“Fundamentally, the centres are meant to address the issues of lack of technology, technology transfer, business management and linkages for Jua Kali artisans and have thus far trained over 1200 artisans considerably improving their manufacturing techniques,” said Mohamed.

He was speaking during a tour of the centre that is in the largely informal settlement to the East of Nairobi. It is the first investment by the State in developing skills among artisans, most of who end up in the Jua Kali sector while a few have built multi-billion-shilling companies. Apart from Muharata, which also manufactures chaff-cutters for chopping hay, a paint manufacturer called Solai Paints and a leather football maker - Dallas Sports International, are among the bigger firms.

The incubation centre was started nearly 30 years ago as a project of the UNDP targeting the youth, but has since received little Government backing. Efficiency in most equipment, while still in use, has been eroded by time and newer innovations calling for the upgrade that came through yesterday.

Dozens of artisans are anticipated to be trained at the centre every year. “Through such initiatives, we are able to reduce the products we import as a country and create jobs at home,” chief executive of the Medium and Small Enterprises Authority Patrick Mwangi said.

Tens of machines are already being fabricated at Kariobangi- the manufacturing hub that is also famous for producing a broad range of counterfeit commodities including personal care, food and even alcoholic beverages. Four more such centres as Kariobangi Light Industries have been planned in Voi, Mombasa, Nakuru and Kisumu.

Mwangi said the centers will create inclusion of entrepreneurship training to enable up-grade of skills needed for business activities which is important to address challenges of industrial growth.

Beneficiaries would further receive training in production processes and in preparing viable business plans for prospective investors or lenders. To tackle the challenge of finding seed capital,

Mohamed said his ministry would soon launch an SME accelerator fund to grow small and medium businesses to the next level. It will also build best-practice manufacturing capabilities through model factories and set up a fund to provide low-cost financing to SMEs.

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