In its effort to transform the continent, Strathmore University Business School (SBS) takes an active role in influencing leadership in both public and private sectors. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) constitute 98% of all businesses in Kenya and has created 30% of the jobs as at 2017. For the country to realize the Big 4 Agenda, (manufacturing, universal healthcare, affordable housing, and food security) collaboration between the government and SMEs is crucial.
The 6th Annual SME Conference organized in partnership with NIC Bank, hosted over 150 entrepreneurs under the theme “Enhancing SME Sustainability through Innovation” on 6th and 7th September 2018. The conference attracted experienced speakers from the industry who were able to give their perspectives on the sub-themes of Housing, Health, Manufacturing and Agribusiness which are housed in the Big 4 Agenda. Among the key speakers were: Anne Mutahi-Senior Advisor to the President on SME Development, Mr. John Gachora- General Managing Director, NIC BankKenya PLC and Zephania Mbugua- Founder & CEO, Abcon Group.
In his opening remarks, Dr. George Njenga (Executive Dean, SBS) pointed out the role of the government in providing an enabling environment for the SMEs to conduct their businesses. It is no secret that SMEs are key players in spurring the economic development of Kenya. Challenges of unemployment, poverty, high inflation, stagnated economic growth and high cost of living will be issues of the past if the SMEs are provided with a conducive and enabling environment that will contribute to success and sustainability of businesses.
The conversation on affordable housing is pertinent as there is need to curb the challenge of the growing informal settlements in Kenya. In addition, there are a number of Kenyans who desire to own homes, however affordability in the current real estate market remains a problem. The government aims to build one million homes by 2022 through two programmes – social housing and affordable housing which can be achieved if backed by policy and regulatory systems. The endeavor to provide inexpensive homes can be attained if the construction industry is backed by skilled manpower, who will produce quality and durable housing.
A healthy nation is one which can afford to feed its people as well as have surplus food produce for the future generation. For this to happen, all decisions on agriculture need to be backed by data which will inform the farmer on a real time basis on conducive weather for growing certain crops, the seasons to plant/ harvest and current best practice on farming different crops. The government aims to provide conducive
Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is the key discussion among health practitioners and business owners. The healthcare sector needs disruption, which will enable the use of new models and methods of operation in order to improve our systems and delivery of services. This agenda aims at ensuring that all citizens in Kenya have access and can afford healthcare services. Our health systems in Kenya are failing due to lack of prioritization in health investments. We focus more on curative measures as opposed to preventive measures, and it is for this reason that a broader view of UHC, encompassing preventive care, access to medication, funds for health resources among many other considerations, is critical. Indeed, universal health Coverage is not a destination but a continuous journey.
In its commitment to transforming SMEs Strathmore Business School plays an active role in training business executives and entrepreneurs with a view of equipping them with skills to transform their businesses in sustainable and profitable ventures. The SME conference provided a suitable platform to share relevant ideas that influence the growth of business enterprises; while giving them a platform to broaden their networks.