Expo sheds light on challenges facing small businesses in Kenya
The fourth edition of the Nation Media Group SME Conference and Expo that started on March 15 came to a close on March 17, 2023, bringing together more than 15,000 participants and 150 exhibitors at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre.
Exhibitors present were drawn from various segments of the economy. Under the finance segment for instance, Roots Credit, a microfinance institution, showcased some of the financial products it has developed to help financially underserved SMEs access better credit, while The Bank of Baroda displayed new products it has launched targeting SMEs, such as a current account product that accrues interest over time.
Under the agriculture category, Ms Soin Chebet of Soin Honey got an opportunity to display organic honey products sourced from Baringo County. Under manufacturing, ROK industries displayed products such as confectionery, and plastic products that the firm manufactures in industrial area. From the ICT sector, firms such as Robisearch Ltd and Pergamon Group showcased digital product offerings aimed at making work easier.
Other organisations that exhibited included Karembou, Kenya Industrial Estates, Kenic, Stima Sacco, I Choose Life, Tally Solutions, Thika Cloth Mills Limited, the Star Discover Insurance, Simpet Global Logistics Ltd, Kerio Valley Development Authority, Scalestech, Bandari Sacco Ltd, Ikomali, Minet, Capex Life Assurance, Judiciary Tribunals, Micro and Small Enterprises Authority, Kenya (MSEA Kenya), Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA Kenya), Tek Box and KNCCI.
Given the significance of these MSMEs as a source of employment, the NMG Conference and Expo also featured discussions on what needs to be done to help them grow into larger organisations. This included discussions on the need to promote policies that encourage innovation and the adoption of new technologies.
It was noted that while many SMEs are willing to adopt new technologies, they face challenges such as the high cost of ICT infrastructure that stops them from making the move towards digital. There were also discussions about what needs to be done to support access to finance. Lack of adequate capital is one of the biggest challenges stifling the growth of SMEs.