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Kenyans urged to exploit African Continental Free Trade Area

Players in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME’s) have been urged to produce quality goods which will enable them tap into the vast market made available by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development Chief Administrative Secretary David Osiany said that as a ministry they are seeking to encourage MSME’s to tap into the vast African market and this will be possible if they produce goods that meet the global standards.

Speaking while engaging Traders at the Kariobangi Centre of Excellence where they show case the prowess, Osiany explained that the center of excellence also houses the Biashara Centre which domiciles all agencies at the Ministry of Trade and Industrialization into a one stop center so that when an entrepreneur visits they find the Kenya Industrial Properties Institute (KIPI) who will patent the idea,  Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) assists in the issue of quality and 18 state agencies found at the center are also ready to assist in their field of expertise.

The CAS called on young people and entrepreneurs to take advantage of the professionals in the Biashara Centre to seeks advise, financial support in terms of credit and access to markets.

Osiany said that Covid-19 has ravaged the MSME’s which accounts for 85 per cent of employment and the government through Micro and Small Enterprises Authority (MSEA) is working towards giving support to the sector so that the businesses can be bounce back on their feet again.

“This is a sector that the president has zeroed in on since it falls under the Big4 agenda that seeks to ensure that the peoples’ income grow in tandem with the country’s economic growth and even the SME’s which require a lot of support in their summative stages are not left behind,” said Osiany.

CAS Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development, David Osiany (right), being shown by an artisan the modification, building of matatu body works and general repairs undertaken at Kariobangi Micro and Small Enterprise Authority Training and Development Centre when he engaged with Small and Medium sized Enterprises. Photo by Joseph Ng’ang’a

He added that as a ministry they are supporting the SME’s with knowledge on how to access loans and how to manage the loans so that they don’t have a bad credit culture which has been a problem with the previous funds.

“We want to teach our young people that when they access a loan for the sake of growing their business they should be kind enough to return the money so that it can be utilized to assist the next person in need of growth,” advised Osiany.

He gave an example of a company which has been incubated at the Kariobangi Centre of Excellence which now has the capacity to produce over 40-100 footballs per day depending on the demand.

“We are looking forward to working with Sports Kenya to build this sector so that if our young people are able to do this exemplary work then they definitely need the support from within other sectors which is how the government functions,” said Osiany.

He added that they are working towards making the cottage industry attractive to the young people and they have had deliberations of the possibility of renaming the industry from Juakali to something a little bit palatable and pleasant.

“Many young people who finish school don’t see the sector as well paying but the truth is that there is very modest income in the sector and we only need to change the perspective to make the youth understand that one can graduate with a degree in locomotive engineering but general motors will not employ all of you and we need that expertise in the cottage industry,” said Osiany.

He said that they want to make the industry a viable employment opportunity for the youth and women since the latest technologies enables women to operate the machines with ease.

By Joseph Ng’ang’a

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