NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 17 – Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) have been challenged to ride on improved productivity to expand into new markets.
Speaking during a training seminar by the Kenya Institute of Business Training (KIBT) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Chief Representative of JICA Hajime Lwama asked the entrepreneurs to use the training to acquire competitive skills to use globally in order to be productive in the export market.
“SMEs have to appreciate the training in order to become more competitive and productive at their home base to enable them integrate into global value chains through trade and investments including linkages with foreign direct investments,” said Lwama.
The project, which was signed in 2019, targets enterprises within Nairobi and its environs, Eldoret and Mombasa.
The term of cooperation runs from January 25, 2021 to February 28, 2025 with room for extension.
The project, among other deliverables, enhances the ability of small enterprises to access financing by equipping them with knowledge such as that of preparing financial documents for loan screening.
SMEs are also put in an ecosystem for interacting and collaborating with trade and financial institutions including Kenya Bankers Association to improve their business processes and receive support from financial institutions and investors.
A survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) showed 2.2 million micro small business shut down in the five years ending 2016.
The figure is an equivalent of approximately 440,000 MSMEs closing yearly, a statistic that the JICA training wants to overcome by equipping small firms with new skills set to run sustainably.
JICA, through Japan Productivity Centre in collaboration with KIBT, has so far trained 18 firms and targets to hit 48 by end of the project. In addition, it has trained 15 master trainers and 20 trainers.
According to JICA, it will have trained 35 master trainers and 60 trainers by the end of the project, enabling them to roll out consultancy services for other enterprises looking to enhance business competitiveness.
Speaking at the seminar, Haron Komen, the director of administration in the State Department of Micro, Small and Medium (MSME) Enterprise Development, said the JICA project is key in the technical transfer of the Japanese philosophy and tools of management excellence to Kenyans firms.
“It is expected that by the time of the completion of the project, all involved pilot enterprises would transform by achieving productivity, be more competitive in the market and serve as model enterprises for bench-marking by other SMEs,” said Komen.
Kenya government’s vision 2030 identified the promotion of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and human resources development as key in achieving the desired 10 PER XENT annual GDP growth.