The Government has purposed to transform smallholder agriculture into a modern sector and SMEs have been identified as key actors and beneficiaries of the transformation.
Ministry of Trade, Industrialisation and Enterprise Development, Cabinet Secretary, Betty Maina, said that further development of the sector is key to poverty reduction and economic growth, and therefore remains central to the National Agenda, as demonstrated by the presence of Food Security as one of the Pillars in the Big 4 Agenda.
Maina said this in a speech read on her behalf by the Micro and Small Enterprises Authority (MSEA) CEO, Henry Rithaa, during the launch of the Strategic Plan for the Micro Enterprises Support Programme Trust (MESPT) for the period 2021-2025.
Maina said that MESPT is known as a champion for Smallholder Farmers and Agri-SME Growth through their work in capacity building, business advisory services, agricultural financing solutions, value-chain and market systems development.
The CS lauded MESPT for consistently working and building a portfolio of Sh6.2 billion sustainable financing which has so far been disbursed to 36 Financial Institutions and 250,000 end-users through 55 financial products.
“Most remarkable is the creation of a total of 70,000 jobs at various levels of the market system, the engagement of 100,000 farmers in various value chains and the generation of Kshs.6.8 billion total sales turnover by the targeted small-holder farmers,” said Maina.
She highlighted that the SME sector in Kenya is the life force of the Country’s economy constituting about 98 percent of all the businesses in the country employing about 15 million Kenyans and generate 80 percent of new jobs annually.
“I must laud all stakeholders in this sector because despite the challenges currently being faced by SMEs, particularly from the ripple effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic, on aggregate, this segment has still shown a steady growth over the years representing a contribution of nearly 40 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” said the CS.
She said that some key agencies within her ministry that are actively supporting agricultural and its value addition chain include the Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (KEPROBA), the Micro and Small Enterprises Authority (MSEA), the Kenya Industrial Estates (KIE), the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI) and the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) amongst others.
MESPT CEO, Rebecca Amukhoye, said that their aim is to support small holder farmers and SME’s through value chain development by offering affordable credit to financial institutions for improved business competitiveness and job creation.
“We are focused on solving pressing challenges such as climate change, access to finance, food safety, women and youth unemployment by providing unique business models which increase agricultural productivity and access to markets,” said Amukhoye.
Denmark Ambassador to Kenya, Ole Thonke, said that the partnership between Denmark and MESPT has been long and has produced remarkable results over time by empowering thousands of small holder farmers.
“My first field trip was in Taita-Taveta to visit small scale farmers producing green groceries where a truck came around collecting the produce and taking them to Mombasa where they were packaged and shipped to Europe shelf ready for supermarkets and that was remarkable to see relatively poor farmers growing vegetables to be consumed directly in Europe,” said Thonke.
By Joseph Ng’ang’a