Micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) development remains a high priority for many governments worldwide. In Kenya, MSMEs account for 70% of the total employment rate and 50% of the GDP. This is according to the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM). However, although SMEs play a vital role in the economy’s growth, their contribution is minimal. Inadequate finance, rapid technology changes and lack of adequate managerial training, among other challenges, hinder their contribution.
Kenya Climate Innovation Center Consulting Limited (KCL) has been at the forefront of championing and enhancing the growth and success of MSMEs. KCL provides various interventions to these SMEs to meet the needs of present and future generations. The interventions include mentorships programmes, which assist both early-stage and established businesses across Africa. In addition, the companies are paired with business owners who walk them through the entrepreneurial journey.
Christine Mwangi, Enterprise and Development manager at KCL, insists on enhancing the sustainability of MSMEs. “To all stakeholders supporting SMEs, there is a need to maintain this momentum. One major way is to continuously listen to and adapt to the evolving opportunities presented by these enterprises.”
” For instance, access to finance is a key challenge for these businesses and therefore, the conversation around blended finance is very timely as it recognizes the opportunity for these businesses towards enhancing sustainable development,” she underscores.
Utamaduni furniture is among the latest beneficiaries of the KCL mentorship programme. In a candid interview with the company’s founder Mr Edwin Ichangai, the impact the mentorship has had on the SME is immeasurable. Mr Ichangai jovially describes how the mentorship has positively impacted his business and impelled him to new elusive levels.
“What the mentorship has done for us is amazing,” he stated, “From the mentorship, we were able to network with different SMEs and learn how things get done. The KCL mentorship taught us the importance of gender balance and competency in the workplace. Today, Utamaduni is proud to have employed a lady as our social media marketer. This has increased employment and greatly improved our customer base.”
The company, which has been in operation since 2018, manufactures household furniture from papyrus reeds.
“Our products are highly sustainable since the materials are eco-friendly,” he added. “From the mentorship programme, we were able to learn new ways of reaching out to potential customers, thus increasing our sales and revenue.”
The company learned about the mentorship program and enrolled during a recent Expo organized by Kenya Climate Innovation Center(KCIC).
“We never knew we had so many gaps to fill in our business. But, through the mentorship, we have understood the importance of a business plan and putting up a business system. Again, in December last year, we had an interview on NTV, which was a great boost for us in the market. I can only credit all this to the business mentorship. Today, we are somewhere thanks to KCL,” added Ichangai.
SMEs are a vital factor in any growing economy. KCL remains focused on supporting and propelling SMEs with the necessary equipment and knowledge to improve their capabilities, production, and societal impact. KCL has a set of interventions, including mentorship programmes, business advisory and incubation programmes that are meant to foster growth and accelerate the development of the private sector towards achieving a sustainable future.