Trade chamber to collaborate with counties on key zones for small enterprises

Trade CS Moses Kuria accompanied by Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire and Chamber President Richard Ngatia tour a mango processing stand at the University of Embu during the Embu mega business expo. April 4, 2023. [Murithi Mugo, Standard]

The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) has embarked on a project to collaborate with counties in establishing Special Economic Zones (SEZs) for small enterprises.

The project aims to boost industrialisation through expanding value chains, technology transfer and job creation for micro' small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

A recent National Economic Survey by the Central Bank of Kenya indicated that MSMEs constitute 98 per cent of all business in Kenya, create 30 per cent of the jobs annually as well as contribute three per cent of GDP growth.

Speaking at the Embu Mega Business Expo last week, KNCCI President Richard Ngatia lauded the leadership of Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire for promoting a conducive business environment for MSMEs.

"The level of innovation showcased by our business community in this forum is fascinating. I am impressed to see that 90 per cent of exhibitors are young people," he said

Investments, Trade and Industry Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria also attended the expo held under the theme, 'Promoting Trade Opportunities for Economic Growth'.

As part of the chamber's concerted efforts for countrywide business advocacy, Ngatia had earlier engaged county leadership in Kapsabet and Eldoret on building synergies for the support and development of innovation hubs that will nurture small-scale businesses.

The industrial parks programmes targeting all 47 counties have the blessings of CS Kuria, who has committed the ministry's support while the cottage industry initiative is also backed by development partners and county governments.

During the MSME Conference and Expo held recently at the KICC, Nairobi, Ngatia encouraged partnership between government, private sector, financial institutions and development partners to foster programmes that strengthen the production capacity of MSMEs; including access to affordable credit, digitisation and export readiness.

Under the current KNCCI leadership, the chamber has secured funding and capacity-building support for MSMEs for post-covid recovery and sustainability from development partners including Trade Mark Africa, Mastercard Foundation, FSD Kenya, Swedish International Development Agency, European Union, and Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.

For instance, the Mastercard Foundation Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience Programme benefited 18,000 KNCCI members with Sh535 million being disbursed as interest-free microloans, according to information provided by the chamber.

In March 2023, Trademark Africa in partnership with KNCCI through the support of Global Affairs Canada launched an integrated information platform, iSOKO, designed to support more than 20,000 women traders across East Africa.

Through its economic diplomacy mandate, KNCCI is keen to secure international markets for Kenyan businesses, says the

Ngatia also led the private sector delegation that accompanied President William Ruto at the high-level business dialogue in Germany with a call to consider Kenya as a favourable destination for German investment.

"There's an urgent need to scale down climate incompatible funding so as to free funds for climate action and unlock more concessional finance at a lower risk," said President Ruto during the meeting.

In December 2022, Ngatia was appointed to the Chamber of Commerce World Chambers Federation General Council, which President Ruto, who is also the patron of KNCCI, lauded as strategic to improving the visibility and advocacy of Kenya's business sector on the global scene.

Through this position, he will collaborate with other members of the council in connecting chambers of commerce across the world, supporting MSMEs and contributing to the federation's strategy in reinforcing the important role of chambers in trade promotion and enterprise development.