Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) has signed an agreement with the Kenya National Federation of Jua Kali Associations (KNFJKA) to accelerate the provision of affordable credit and capacity building to the members of the umbrella body.
The deal provides a pragmatic collaboration framework that will see KCB Bank and the KCB Foundation support interventions that will strengthen participation, coordination, collaboration, cooperation, and synergy within the Jua Kali sector.
Specifically, Jua Kali Association members drawn from carpentry, woodcrafts, metalworking, soapstone crafts, leather production, textile products, clay and poetry crafts, beekeeping, mechanical engineering, food processing, and electrical sub-sectors get access to a wide range of financial and non-financial services offered by the bank to spur their growth.
Speaking during the MoU signing ceremony, KCB Bank Director of Digital Financial Services, Ms. Angela Mwirigi, noted that it is high time the Jua Kali sector received a new lease of life through the injection of much-needed market-driven competencies as a first step towards revolutionizing the sector.
“The engagement we are unveiling today is a response to the urgent need for players within the Jua Kali sub-sector to tap into more formal entrepreneurial opportunities currently available with the goal of progressing towards decent work for all. KCB Bank Kenya and KCB Foundation will work closely to ensure that your members are well positioned within the skills development eco-system both locally and regionally,” Mwirigi said.
Despite the Jua Kali sector’s prolific contribution to the economy, the sector is still plagued by systemic challenges that prevent the achievement of its full potential. These challenges include; Lack of adequate market for their wares, lack of access to relevant social protection services like pensions and insurance, lack of infrastructure, recognition of the learning and skills upgrading framework, among others.
“There exists overwhelming evidence that the Jua Kali sector can become more competitive by increasing their involvement in formal support initiatives. We, therefore, have an opportunity to link them up to an inclusive financial system that recognizes their skills and appreciates their contribution to the economy,” Mwirigi remarked.
“As a bank with the largest network coverage in the region, we are well-positioned to support this agenda,” she added.
On the other hand, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Kenya National Federation of Jua Kali Associations (KNFJKA), Mr Richard Muteti, lauded KCB’s move as it will go a long way in unlocking the full potential of the informal sector.
“As sector players, we welcome KCB Bank and KCB Foundation on board, as through their respective interventions, we shall get the capacity to focus and upscale our entrepreneurial endeavors. As a result, we look forward to reaping the full benefits of a robust SME sector that guarantees sustained growth,” Muteti said.
Muteti lamented that most companies and banks sign an agreement with claws back and leave them desperate, and urged KCB to honour the agreement. “We will not eat you; do not eat us,” Muteti said.
According to the Kenya Economic Survey 2022, 80 per cent of the slightly more than 900,000 jobs created in 2021 were in the informal sector, dominated by small and medium enterprises (SMEs). This means that for informal enterprises to flourish, they need to be given effective business support across key areas of engagement.
By Ali Sheikh Mohamed and Peace Muthoka