We are helping SMEs ride Covid crisis – Richard Ngatia
By Esther Dianah | December 28th 2020
It has been a turbulent year for biashara due to Covid-19. ESTHER DIANAH spoke to the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) President on, among others, how the Chamber is cushioning jua kali and mama mboga.
As President of KNCCI, what steps are you taking to help small businesses thrive despite the Covid-19 crisis?
We have established a strategic partnership with MasterCard Foundation to support Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) with working capital and liquidity through credit facilities and grants. So far, we have reached 40 counties and disbursed over Sh150 million. We are also working with Equity Bank to support SMEs on a post-Covid-19 recovery pact to ensure business continuity and sustainability through training and access to credit. So far, we have trained 24,000 businesses.
We have also partnered with Trademark EA and FSD to support women on regional and cross border business programmes, and retail pay through working capital and business development services, among others.
What is the budget set aside to lift mama mbogas, mama nguos and SMEs?
Through our strategic partnership with MasterCard Foundation, we have a commitment of a Sh600 million revolving fund. There is also partnership with Equity Bank of Sh200 billion to support post-recovery and survival programmes
What particular mitigations are there for self-employed people?
There are moratoriums such as bank loans restructuring to improve liquidity; continuous business knowledge development and information sharing; support for new markets and alternative supply chain channels; continuous advocacy and policy reforms programme; investment in digital trade such as e-commerce; and capacities, knowledge and entrepreneurial development through training, remodeling and reskilling.
You are a good friend of President Uhuru Kenyatta, do you advise him on how to handle the health and economic crises?
I provide advice and counsel on behalf of the private sector on national policy reform programmes to support business environment in order to improve our enterprise competitiveness to build the economy and create jobs and also support government development programmes around the Big 4. I also provide guidance on issues related to international trade through our economic diplomacy initiatives.
How far are you in securing the elimination of cross county levies?
As a Chamber, our role is to support better business climate and reforms through our advocacy activities. On this front, we have a strategic partnership with the Council of Governors to collaborate and purse programme that will support trade and investment at county levels.
We have given our proposals and recommendations to all the concerned parties to assess how best to eliminate and harmonise the levies both at county and nation level. The process is ongoing and we hope to finalise it in the near future.
How has Covid 19 reshaped business?
There has been a massive loss of jobs and decline in revenue and low supply chain.
How is Government doing in terms of meeting unpaid bills?
The government has committed to work with all agencies both at national and county levels to pay and settle pending bills to improve working capital among the business community.
What is your vision for the chamber?
My vision is to continue to push for better business environment and reforms that are focused on economic growth and job creation , support youth and women and improve Small and medium Enterprise SMEs businesses
What is your outlook for next year?
The Chamber will focus on promoting strategic collaboration with both the national and county governments on trade and investment; continuous dialogue with government to promote business reforms and policies to support business environment; development of SMEs and job creation among the youth and women; and inking key bilateral trade agreements, export development programmes and international cooperation initiatives.
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