October 26, 2018



KEPSA in partnership with Invest In Africa (IIA) held a Private Sector Stakeholders – Scale Up Kenya breakfast meeting on “Sustainable Partnerships to Scaling Up SMEs” on 26th October 2018 at Park Inn By Radisson Blu. The aim of the forum was to engage the private sector actors towards promoting socio-economic development with an aim of achieving the following objectives:

  1. Promote socio-economic impact through ring-fencing opportunities for SMEs’.
  2. Bring on board strategic partners for a targeted and holistic approach towards scaling up SME’s in Kenya in addressing the needs of the private sector.
  3. Call to action to private sector actors to incorporate scale-up strategies for SME’s as part of their Corporate Social Investment (CSI)
  4. Sensitize private sector organizations on how they can access a large pool of pre-vetted supplier for supply chain sustainability.
  5. Celebrate organizations already promoting SME’s development.

As Kenya aspires to reach its goal of being an upper middle-income economy by 2030, the private sector should match the aspirations of government. The private sector forms a key vehicle of driving socio-economic development and growth in Kenya through job creation through spurring optimization of opportunities available in value chain across industries and advocating for enabling the business environment for Kenya by working together with the Government and other stakeholders.

The power of the private sector to drive development cannot be understated. It is now time to act! There is wide consensus that the key to achieving social economic development lies within how business operations should be restructured to include sustainability such as, inclusive business and employment of the most vulnerable groups and sectors, and also to ensure that foreign direct investments and trade between large and small organizations.

Speaking during the event, KEPSA Chairman, Nick Nesbitt applauded Invest In Africa and other players in the SME development sector, pointing out the importance of SMEs in the economy. “According to statistics, MSME’s contribute about 34% to GDP and account for over 90% of all established businesses, employing nearly 85% of Kenya’s workforce.” He said.

Nick Nesbitt also expressed optimism that Kenya will improve in this year’s Doing Business Index ranking from current position 80 an indication of an improved environment for business especially for SMEs to thrive. He further pointed out that Kenya is an innovative nation and reiterated the importance of embracing technology in businesses and the need to keep innovating and leverage on technology such as blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and e-commerce.

IIA Country Manager, Wangechi Muriuki praised the partnership with KEPSA as a stepping stone towards scaling SMEs by opening up more opportunities from the private sector. “ We have so far recruited and validated 1,800 SMEs on the platform, posted 110 tenders from 10 buyers and supported 21,000 jobs. We are therefore calling for more support in order to achieve an even greater impact to SMEs and the economy at large. “ She said.  Invest In Africa plans to link SMEs to tenders worth 1 billion shillings and create 25,000 jobs by 2020.

KEPSA ICT sector board chair Mr. Mike Macharia during a panel discussion on ‘Sustainable Partnerships to Scaling up SMES’ said employees in Kenya work for 35 hours a week compared to 80 hours in Japan hence the need to increase to 60 hours so as to improve the country’s labor productivity. In addition, he said that for SMEs to scale up, they need to understand the markets, the political environment and package themselves well to take up opportunities e.g. in the #Big4Agenda.

Philip Sigwart, Equity Bank Head of SME banking said Equity has supported 160,000 SMEs mostly in rural areas to a tune of KSh 250M financing and seeks to double the number in the next 2-3years.

Celestine Munda, partner East &Central Advisory said there is need for Kenya to leverage on technology in order to solve the current problems faced by SMEs.

Susan Munyori from Tullow Kenya said that they engage SMEs through local content and try to help them demystify the oil and gas industry as well as achieve the standards for safety. She said there is need for large companies to always endeavor to avail information on available opportunities to SMEs.

As the collective voice of the private sector in Kenya, KEPSA serves as a bridge within the business community in creating and enhancing a conducive business environment.

Invest In Africa, on the other hand, is working to enhance SME access to skills, markets and finance in partnership with both leading organizations in Kenya in order to drive job creation and enterprise development in the economy.

IIA has built a unique, world-class online technology platform – The African Partner Pool (APP) that directly connects SMEs with larger organizations sourcing for goods and services locally and also offers capacity building to enable address existing skill and knowledge gaps. Businesses were urged to visit the APP platform to help them get access to a large pool of an already pre-vetted suppliers.