Northern Kenya SMEs get Sh2b credit boost from USAID

EAC, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands and Regional Development CS Rebecca Miano. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Over $14 million (Sh2 billion) has been disbursed to over 9000 small and micro enterprises in Northern Kenya through the Impact for Northern Kenya Fund.

The funds target various sectors such as agriculture, livestock, energy, climate, and tourism.

The Fund, an impact investment wholesale financing vehicle lending catalytic capital to financial institutions for on-lending to micro, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) under the USAID Kuza project has seen the creation of over 16,500 jobs in arid and semi-arid counties. These include Garissa, Isiolo, Lamu, Mandera, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Turkana, Wajir and West Pokot.

Public, private, and development sector players Friday attended the Northern Kenya Impact Investment Conference in Nairobi.

Financiers and investors pledged their support for impact investments aimed at contributing to sustainable development in Northern Kenya. The one-day conference hosted by USAID Kuza and partners, themed “Why Northern Kenya, Why Now?” discussed the status, and opportunities and addressed constraints for investment in the region.

It also explored the growing need to close the funding gap hindering enterprise development in Northern Kenya. “The ‘missing middle’ small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) struggle to access appropriate financing to support their growth and development,” said USAID Kuza Chief of Party Wyanie Bright.

The Fund de-risks the opportunity cost of doing business in Northern Kenya and uses gender, youth, and market systems lenses to identify borrowers that promote equitable financing and business practices.

Cabinet Secretary for the East African Community, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) and Regional Development, Rebecca Miano called for practical solutions to address youth employment in the region.

“On its part, the government will continue improving the investment environment for accelerated prosperity of the ASALs. This includes reviewing existing laws and regulations as well as practices that hinder ease of doing business for private sector players and public-private sector partnerships to thrive”.

Other highlights of the conference included discussions on sustainable job creation in the region, where pastoralism accounts for 95 per cent of household incomes.

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