The Africa SME Finance Forum 2018 was held in a 2-day conference,15th– 16th May, 2018, at Kempinski Hotel, Nairobi under the theme “Harnessing Innovations.” The forum was held so as to examine some of the key challenges faced by MSMEs in Africa, as well as explore innovative solutions, both regionally-grown and globally-grown, that promote sustainable growth of youth entrepreneurship and enhance access to financing for MSMEs.
In her opening remarks, Ms. Ruth Dueck-Mbeba, Senior Program Manager, Financial Inclusion at Mastercard Foundation, highlighted on the work they have done with IFC on expanding financial inclusion in Africa, adding that they have had a reach of over 7 million digital financial services users. She went on to say that Mastercard Foundation is supporting African youth to increase youth employment thus reducing poverty.
KEPSA CEO, Ms. Carole Kariuki, gave the keynote address on ‘Getting Women into High Growth Businesses in Africa, including Tech Industry’. She started by noting that Kenya is fast emerging among the most innovative and enterprising countries in the continent; adding that it is home to worlds’ leading innovations such as MPesa, which has greatly revolutionized the mobile money transfer space, banking and e-commerce, among other developments.
“In Kenya, and indeed most of the developing countries in Africa, SMEs play a very crucial role in the economy. Over 90% of all established businesses are SMEs that account for over three quarters of all jobs in the economy. However, the overall contribution to the economy is below potential at 28.5% compared to developed countries such as Germany, where SMEs contribute 75% to the GDP, and 50% in the UK and Singapore,” she said.
Job creation and economic growth through private sector development have become primary areas of focus for policy makers around the world, including Africa, where around 20% of its 1.246 billion population are youth, aged between 15-24 years, and about two fifths of them are in the 0-14 age bracket.
As more youth enter the workforce, they are known to face increasing difficulties in procuring employment. The traditional sources of opportunity, governments and large corporations, in general are not hiring at the same levels, if at all. As such, SME entrepreneurship is seen as an important option for creating sustainable livelihoods for this segment of the population.
‘Enhancing access to affordable financing through a well-functioning SME lending market, and leverage on emerging trends such as technology to provide innovative solutions. According to IFC, the future of lending is digital finance, therefore we must get our Banks and other financial service providers to expand and develop customized products and services to meet SMEs financial needs,’ Ms. Kariuki said.
She concluded by pledging KEPSA’s committed to ensuring inclusive and sustainable social economic development through empowerment of women.
KEPSA participated in the launch of the National Tree planting initiative dubbed “Panda Miti Penda Kenya” on 12th of May 2018. The launch took place at the Moi Forces Academy, Kamukunji and was presided over by H.E. Hon Uhuru Kenyatta, accompanied by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, Deputy President, William Ruto and Nairobi County Governor, Mike Mbuvi Sonko.
KEPSA, through its members, contributed 43,100 seedlings towards this initative, under the Kijani Movement. This initiatives’ primary objective is to bring together different stakeholders and influence tree planting across the country. This is geared towards helping increase the overall forest cover in Kenya.
KEPSA Environment, Water & Natural Resources Sector Board Chair, Mr. Duncan Kimani, reaffirmed of the Private Sector’s commitment to restoring forest cover and stated that KEPSA will work in closely with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) towards achieving the government’s objective of attaining 10% forest cover by 2022.
KEPSA was well represented at the event through its members, amongst them KAM, BIDCO, Coca- Cola, KUSCCO. Other members who contributed towards the seedlings include Tabaki Freight International Services, Kenya Market Trust, Shanga Engineering Works, Bollore Transport and Logistics, Jijenge Credit, Madison Group, Kenya Association of International Schools, Plantronics Services, ACME Containers Ltd, Intercity Secure Homes Ltd, Protel Studios.
KEPSA, through the Foundation, participated in the 5th Annual Hoteliers Summit, Africa – Sub Sahara that took place on 17th and 18th May, 2018 at the Movenpick Hotel and Residences, Nairobi. The Summit’s theme was “Redefining African Hospitality”.
The aim of the summit revolved on how to transform Africa into a visible tourism destination with investment potential by providing major buyers and sellers of the hospitality industry providing a platform to discuss projects that will help build a richer, better Sub-Saharan Africa.
The event was opened by the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, Hon. Najib Balala. In his remarks he stated that there is need to redefine hospitality in Kenya and Africa at large, noting that there is a new clientele – The Millennials, who want an experience and are about having fun thus emphasizing that tourism can no longer only be about the product but also has to be about the experience. While pledging his support, he called on investors and hoteliers to come up with innovative ideas that will make Nairobi a buzzing city and enhance the Kenyan experience.
Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) CEO, Ms. Susan Ongalo joined a panel with her East African counterparts to discuss ‘Emerging Paradigm Shift – The African Dream’. She echoed the sentiments of the CS in that in addition to the traditional Safari product, Kenya is looking to add on other products and activities that will see opening up of other counties to tourism and give visitors an experience.
On emerging tourism opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa, Arch. Lee Karuri, Chairman of KEPSA Foundation and Executive Chair of Resorts and Cities, highlighted that Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, the political environment and security is relatively stable hence the future is great for tourism. He noted that Africans are travelling more in Africa for tourism creating a strong domestic Pan- African market. He concluded by stating that Sub-Saharan Africa is the new business frontier for investment in Africa.
The event brought together leaders from around the continent that included C-suite investors, Government officials, high net worth individuals, hotel owners & developers, hotel operators, architects, interior designers, project management consultants, professionals, advisory specialists and sustainability experts to promote business consultations and best practices in order to build sustainable partnerships.
The next Hotelier Summit will be held in October 2018 in Morroco – North Africa.
KEPSA Gender and Youth sector board Chair, Ms. Eva Muraya, on Thursday, 17th May 2018 participated in a stakeholder’s workshop on Youth Employment Status in Kenya organized by Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA).
The main aim of the workshop was to bring together different stakeholders to discuss issues surrounding youth employment status in Kenya and offer recommendations for youth unemployment in the country.
Speaking during the event, the Director of Economic Planning, Ms. Katherine Muoki, outlined the various government initiatives geared towards building youth capacity and creating employment. However, she noted of the limited opportunities within the government.
Ms. Muraya spoke on the role of private sector in creating job employment opportunities in Kenya. She highlighted KEPSA’s engagement with government and other stakeholders on initiatives towards boosting youth employment, which include: championship for an enabling business environment in order to attract both local and foreign investors and boosting self-employment; intensified push for policy reforms and business regulatory reforms; supporting youth enterprises development through the Gender and Youth Sector Board; championing for improved access to government procurement by youth; and review of National Youth policy for ensuring that youth issues are adequately entrenched in government initiatives among others.
She went on to speak on the impact of the Kenya Youth Empowerment project (KYEP), that had 80% success rate after training over 20,000 youth and placing 13,000 in internship with the private sector and also highlighted the Ajira Digital Project that aims at empowering 1 million youth in Kenya by training them on digital skills to take up online jobs.
Among the recommendations that she noted were: increase youth involvement in decision making at national, county and corporate level; facilitating development of demand based skills to enhance youth employability; increase investment into TVETs for technical skills development; develop a legal framework to support internships; Create an enabling business environment to enhance growth of the private sector for increased job creation and spark growth of youth enterprises and embracing Youth enterprise development initiatives.
KEPSA remains a champion for pro-youth enterprise growth policies and strategies aimed at fostering economic empowerment.’
On 8th May, 2018, the Gender and Youth Sector Board held its monthly meeting whose objective was to deliberate on the sector proposals towards the Big Four Agenda.
The Gender and Youth Sector Board Chair, Ms. Eva Muraya, emphasized on the need for the sector to align itself with the government’s agenda. She said after the courtesy call to the Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Margaret Kobia, there is need to strengthen engagement to ensure collaboration in addressing concerns raised. Additionally, she noted that, since the Ministry was keen to focus on Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs), the sector board should reach out to BMOs that represent MSMEs for inclusion in the board.
As a follow up of the Implementation of the Business Registration Services Act, which provides for a one-stop shop for registration of businesses, members reported inconsistencies in service provision during their visits. Corruption was raised as one of the catalyzing reasons for poor experiences. It was agreed that as part of continued engagement with the Ministry of Public Services, Youth and Gender affairs, the issue of inconsistencies in service delivery will be raised with the Chief Administrative Secretary, Hon. Rachel Shebesh.
The members present reiterated that on Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO), there are continued challenges surrounding the engagement of youth and women in the government procurement opportunities. The Gender and Youth Sector board Vice Chair, Ms. Jane Kagiri was appointed in a task team mandated to evaluate AGPO challenges and develop recommendations for its effectiveness.
The Sector board agreed to forge strategic partnerships with like-minded partners and stakeholders in the bid to push this agenda forth.