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Government underscores role of MSMEs

Cabinet Secretary for Cooperatives and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Simon Chelugui has underscored the critical role played by MSMEs towards national economic growth.

He said the MSME sector is the backbone of the Kenyan economy having created employment to over 15 million people with a value output of Sh. 3.3 trillion making it a high priority segment in realization of the government’s agenda for bottom-up economic transformation.

Chelgui said the sector had also made a significant contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at 3 per cent according to the recent National Economic Survey Report by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).

Owing to its enormous contribution towards employment creation, the CS said there was a need to push its contribution to the GDP to over 20 per cent by supporting and promoting businesses and startups.

“This is what happened to countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Japan after giving more focus to MSMEs by promoting a fair business environment,” the CS said while giving the keynote address on Wednesday at the two-day “Embu Mega Business Expo” held at Embu University grounds.

Towards this, the CS said the Ministry was in the process of finalizing the Start-up Bill that seeks to provide a framework that fosters a culture of innovating thinking and entrepreneurship in the counties.

He said the aspiration for the bill was to strengthen and coordinate the startup ecosystem both at the national and county level.

The CS also said the Ministry was focusing on providing training and capacity-building programs to MSMEs on various thematic areas including financial management, digitization, value addition, business governance and management.

He continued that aggregation and market linkage arrangements was another area of focus to MSMEs at the county and constituency level so that they can benefit from economies of scale and enhance their competitiveness.

Chelugui continued that accessibility and affordability of funding were the two main hurdles for MSMEs and the launch of the Financial Inclusion Fund dubbed “Hustler Fund” was one way of realizing financial inclusion for millions of Kenyans who would otherwise be excluded from the mainstream financial system.

He reported that the personal finance product that was one of four others in the fund that was rolled out three months ago had availed credit to over 19 million with a total of Sh. 24 billion disbursed.

The CS said the total repayment stood at Sh. 14 billion representing 63 per cent with total savings standing at Sh. 1.2 billion.

Governor Cecily Mbarire appealed to the government to assist bail out the County Coffee Mill from a Sh. 90 million loan facility secured eight years ago and that had accrued to Sh. 160 million.

She said the idea behind the mill was noble as it aimed at consolidating milling and marketing of all Embu coffee to multiply famers’ earnings through value addition and weeding out middlemen.

Some of the exhibitors hailed the initiative of the expo, saying it had gone a long way in advertising their ventures within and without the county.

“It was a rare opportunity for KTDA to showcase our new product of joint tea blend from our three factories of Mungania, Kathangariri and Rukuriri,” said KTDA Zone Six Board Member Enos Njeru.

Businesswoman Carol Wambui called on the devolved unit to make it an annual event to enable them secure new markets.

By Samuel Waititu

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