Nakuru County Government has partnered with Stanbic Bank to register and train over 1,000 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) businesses to sell their products online.
Executive Director and head of Stanbic Kenya Foundation Pauline Mbayah said the bank will provide free online training ranging from the basics of e-commerce to operations, marketing, finance and sales to youth and women in business as a way of countering Covid-19 disruption.
Ms Mbayah who spoke after inking the deal with County Executive Committee Member for Education Francis Mwangi stated there was a growing need for entrepreneurs to join the digital market to expose Kenyan goods to the global market.
“Now more than ever, we need to be innovative to help cushion businesses from the impact of Covid-19 pandemic. We will commit resources to support the initiative, to train vendors and give them the tools to sell online effectively.
Online trading can help to make more goods and services available for consumers, increase market access for MSMEs and SMEs and encourage investments”, said the Executive Director.
The initial phase of the Digital Commerce Training Program will be limited to five digital hubs spread out in Rongai, Subukia, Kuresoi South, Nakuru East and Nakuru West Sub Counties with a view to scaling it out to the remaining six Counties.
Ms Mbayah called on the dominant Small and Micro Enterprise Sector in the country to exploit the increased online purchases for growth.
“There exists growth opportunities for entrepreneurs in the country in the e-commerce industry. However, there is a need for policy makers to address factors such as high taxes and costly prices of data in some markets, made worse by relatively low income levels.
Broadband internet is still unaffordable for many and rural areas tend not to be covered. This has resulted into low overall service quality despite digital demand being immense,” she stated.
Mr Mwangi said beneficiaries of the programme will also be trained on basic computer operation knowledge, how to scale up businesses and proper management of finances using digital platforms.
He observed that since the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in Kenya women have been worst hit economically than men.
“Women run 60.7 per cent of unlicensed (mainly micro) and 31.4 per cent of licensed Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the country.
Women and youth in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises need to embrace technology to look for new markets, and communicate with stakeholders and potential clients,” The CEC added.
While appealing to Stanbic Bank to extend the training programme to vocational training centres in the County, Mr Mwangi noted that it was also paramount for MSMEs and SMEs businesses to upscale their skills through online training tools.
The CEC said the pandemic had further brought about many new opportunities which include online and digital jobs that youth and women could do from home.
“Women and youth, particularly young girls should take advantage of these online opportunities and earn a living for themselves. We should not take Covid-19 pandemic in a negative way but view it as a normal disruption to business. E-commerce is the way to go since using technology will increase business visibility, exposing it to many potential clients,” the CEC stated.
By Anne Mwale