Micro, Small and Medium enterprises have a huge potential to create long lasting social value especially because their business models, products and proximity caters for the everyday needs of the larger part of our population. Against the backdrop of a difficult 2017, recovery of business flows has not yet been actualized. The impeding threat of additional indirect taxes has proved to be an added burden to most business regardless of their size.
The Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Presidential Roundtable hosted by Strathmore University on 15th – 16th October 2018 provided an opportunity for the Presidential Delivery Unit to interact with the SMEs in recognition of their central role in the economy; to discuss the opportunities in the sector and develop solutions for challenges facing the sector. His Excellency President Uhuru M. Kenyatta, Deputy President Hon. William Ruto, Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Peter Munya graced the occasion.
Representatives from various clusters: aquaculture, agroprocessing, livestock, textile, trade and construction presented their key challenges and provided possible solutions towards solving their problems to the President and his team. For instance, one major developmental challenge Kenya faces is that of waste pollution. This problem has increasingly become worse as cities become even more congested and the resources to manage population growth, continue to dwindle. In Nairobi’s large markets; Kamukunji, Kariobangi, Ngong road, Muthurwa and Kariokor for instance, the most populous parts are affected by poor drainage and waste pollution, congestion, poor infrastructure, poor technology, inadequate funds, yet this is where you will find a lot of the SMEs, both informal and formal, thriving. Given their critical position, it is pertinent that we find ways to center them in our policy development towards environmental conservation. Dr Edward Mungai DVC Planning and Development Strathmore University moderated the presentations by the entrepreneurs from the different sectors on the issues found consistently affecting SMEs.
Representatives of various clusters presented recommendations for the government to consider among them urging the government to stop importation of products we can produce locally, increase funds for Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) to conduct business, upgrade technology, education for Jua Kali manufactures to better their skills is crucial and conditions of existing open-air markets to be improved. Governor Nairobi county, Mike Sonko suggested that all the representatives for the various clusters meet and strategize on way forward.
President Uhuru Kenyatta pointed out that SMEs are often left out as he admitted that not enough is done to support the sector. He was sincere that the government has not done much to support SMEs other than giving promises that are never actualized. He pointed out that the government would deal with the issues of providing machinery, market and in a months’ time would review the issue of electricity so that traders can work well. The government is tasked with facilitation, which means providing the right technology, infrastructure, formulating proper policies, minimizing administrative and legal bottlenecks in addition to operating a favorable financial and tax regime.
The Small and Medium Enterprises Presidential Round table brought to light the realization of the need to provide more of such platforms for open discussion on how to improve the SME sector therefore accelerating growth not only for the small and growing business owners but also for Kenya at large.