Trade CS Kuria says small businesses must join trade lobby or fold

Small businesses to be mandated to join Chamber of Commerce

Small businesses will have to pay a minimum Sh5,000 subscription to the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) after the government announced plans to make it mandatory for all companies to join the lobby.

Investment, Trade and IndustryCabinet Secretary Moses Kuria said on Monday that the government was working on a law that would make it mandatory for all businesses to be members of the KNCCI in a bid to strengthen it.

The CS, who was speaking at the 3rd Kenya International Investment Conference, said the proposed law would be submitted to Cabinet for approval within 30 days.

“We are working on the National Chamber Bill which has to go to Cabinet within the next 30 days. We are going to have the Kenya Chamber that is truly reflective of Kenyan businesses,” said Mr Kuria.

“In the Chamber Bill, it will be mandatory for every registered company in Kenya to be a member of the Chamber; it will not be an option, it will be mandatory,” added the CS.

Kuria says small businesses must join trade lobby or fold Mandatory membership of the not-for-profit private company limited by guarantee, which promotes the commercial and industrial interests of Kenyan businesses, will be the latest headache for entrepreneurs already struggling with the high cost of doing business.

Sole proprietors pay Sh1,000 to join KNCCI plus Sh5,000 annual subscription fees, business associates and groups pay a subscription fee of Sh15,000 while partnerships pay Sh10,000. Small and medium enterprises pay Sh15,000, local public companies pay Sh50,000 while corporate membership fee is Sh100,000 annually. Mr Kuria dismissed concerns that the mandatory subscription to KNCCI will increase the cost of doing business for entrepreneurs at a time when the government has pledged to improve the ease of doing business to create jobs.

“Some people will start crying that this will increase the cost of doing business. If you think it is expensive to have to pay to be a member of the chamber, then be an employee,” he said. A particular headache for businesses is the costly multiple licences they need to operate, with the national and county governments repeatedly promising but failing to consolidate them.

Businesses are also struggle to access credit since the government has increased domestic borrowing, crowding out the private sector. In addition, the cost of electricity, labour and raw materials has risen in recent months, worsening the operating environment for many businesses that are struggling to shake off the devastating impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.