On 25th November 2021, KEPSA, led by Gender Sector Board Chair Ms. Mucha Mlingo and in partnership with Unilever, KEPSA members – Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) and Invest in Africa hosted the Diversity Suppliers Workshop under the theme “Enhanced Capacity for Diverse Suppliers to Competitively Access Procurement Opportunities”. The workshop targeted diverse groups of suppliers for awareness on Unilever Suppliers Diversity Program and how the suppliers can participate now or prepare themselves for the available or future opportunities.
In her remarks, Ms. Mlingo outlined that KEPSA Supplier Diversity Program seeks to improve Kenya’s business environment for sustainable and inclusive growth by providing an opportunity to ensure that no one is left behind in the efforts towards recovery, resilience and growth of businesses owned by women, youth, persons with disabilities, and other marginalized groups during and post-Covid-19.
Mr. Luck Ochieng – Managing Director, Unilever Kenya, in his opening remarks noted that Globally, Unilever is targeting to support 5 million SMEs to grow their business through access to skills, finance and technology by 2025 which are among the barriers inhibiting the diverse groups from participating in the supply chain and increase spend to over €2b annually with diverse businesses worldwide by 2025.
Mr. Ochieng further mentioned that being a manufacturing entity in Kenya, 70% of the company’s spending is directly spent on the factory, which is an area where there is a lack of SMEs and diverse suppliers. Further, he noted, only 2% of the company’s spend is diverse and the aim to bring this to about 10% in the next 5 years by increasing spending to diverse suppliers in various categories including raw materials; packaging materials; collaborative manufacturers for the current products (3rd party manufacturing for laundry products), marketing and business services – agencies, facility management, digital prints and logistics.
Ms. Patricia Langan – WEConnect International’s Regional Director for Africa and the Middle East, highlighted that only 1% of large corporate and government spending globally goes to women-owned businesses whereas if both men and women participate equally in the economy, the global GDP could rise by $1.5 trillion. Weconnect registers, certify, educate, and connect women-owned businesses.
Ms. Elizabeth Annette Mutesi – International Finance Corporation (IFC) outlined the various procurement opportunities that diverse suppliers can benefit from. She mentioned opportunities in Operation Consulting Services, Administrative Procurement of goods and services and Administrative Consulting.