The government has scaled up its efforts in boosting the Micro and Small Enterprises by bringing sector players together in efforts to help them take advantage of economies of scale to access finances and markets.
Micro and Small Enterprises Authority (MSEA) Chairman James Mureu said that as an authority they provide the linkage between sector players and the government and can be able to scale up issues where the sector is not able to.
“Micro and Small Enterprises employ upwards of 80 per cent of the Kenyan population and during the height of Covid-19 restrictions, there were people who were laid off from other institutions and they have ended up with us and this has increased the number of those supported by the sector,” said Mureu.
Mureu, speaking at MSEA offices in Nairobi complained that the word ‘micro’ makes the businesses look small and many people look down on them but if the sector is looked at as a whole it would make business sense and attract investors.
“We have over 5 million bodaboda riders in the country, if each consumes an average of 10 liters of fuel per day that translates to Shs.1.3 trillion to the exchequer annually and that is not a small sector to joke with,” he said.
He said that the Micro and Small Enterprises sector has an upward of 20 million people who are directly or indirectly dependent on it and as an authority they have continued to support the growth of the sector through the Constituency Industrial Development Centers (CIDC’s) in 344 centers across the country and they have set up common use facilities that have helped the sector to develop themselves and grow products that will be catapulted to the international market.
Mureu said that other government interventions in the sector include the establishment of cold storages to curb post-harvest losses, renovation of Juakali worksites and modern markets that have enabled the MSE sector to conduct their businesses in secure environments equipped with common user machines, electricity and hospitality services.
On the political heat in the country, Mureu said that politicians should carry out their campaigns with full recognition that MSE’s make their living on a daily basis and any disruption of peace causes them to lose their daily bread.
Mureu also warned banks which are getting concessional loans at an interest rate of 1.5 per cent in the pretense that they are lending to the MSE while they charge them the normal commercial rates.
“We know these financial institutions and if they don’t change we will name and shame them,” said Mureu.
Mureu also cautioned financial institutions which are lending money to bodaboda operators and repossessing the motorcycles when the owners have paid up to 90 per cent of the loans.
Kenya National Federation of Jua Kali Association CEO Richard Muteti said that they want resources to be channeled properly and thanked the government through MSEA for allocating 70 per cent of their purchases to the sector.
Muteti said that access to affordable credit has been a hindrance to the growth of the sector calling on the financial institutions to lower their interest rates for the sector since they access concessional loans from international institutions which are aimed at helping the MSE’s.
“I want to request the Ministry of Health to work with us in driving the Covid-19 vaccination campaign. We have very many members and we can make arrangements to have our big juakali sites as vaccination centers,” said Muteti.
By Joseph Ng’ang’a