17 October 2018

Africa: Traders Want Kenyans Wearing African Attire As Kenyatta Promises Support for SMEs

Textile producers want the government to make it mandatory for workers to dress in African attire at least one day a week to promote local designers and manufacturers.

In a meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and traders in Nairobi, they also asked for government organised exhibitions where traders and manufacturers can advertise what is produced in the city.

Kenyatta said his government will streamline its processes so that it accords Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) the support they deserve.

The President said SMEs employ more than 75 per cent of Kenya's working population and contribute the biggest share to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

"The SME community represents 75% of the country's workforce and we need to sit down and know how we will respond to the industry. We owe it to them," he said.

Kenyatta admitted that both the National and County governments need to improve on their level of support for small and medium enterprises.

"This is a conversation that has just begun and you will see more action," said the President who spoke at the Strathmore Business School where he attended a forum on the growth of SMEs.

He said the government needs to refocus its attention on small business enterprises adding that a similar forum will be held at the same venue within two months after the government fulfils some of its outstanding pledges to the SME sector.

While commenting on the cost of doing business in the country, the President directed energy cabinet secretary Charles Keter to review electricity tariffs for SMEs.

"I direct the Energy cabinet secretary to review electricity tariffs within one month and come up with a sustainable plan to ensure the cost of power to small and medium-sized enterprises is brought down," President Kenyatta ordered.

Speaking at the event, Deputy President William Ruto said SMEs form the biggest means for the achievement of the Government's Big Four Agenda.

"There could not have been a better collection of supporters of the Big 4 Agenda. This forum covers the whole spectrum of the Big 4," said Ruto.

The DP also underscored the key role SMEs play by being the single biggest creators of jobs for Kenyans.

Trade and Industry Minister Peter Munya said, "The biggest companies in China started as small retail businesses. The people gathered here are tomorrow's multinationals."

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko said the Nairobi County government will work closely with the national government to support SME traders especially those in markets like Gikomba.

The forum, organised by the Strathmore Business School, NIC Bank and the government, attracted representatives from all sectors of Kenya's small and medium enterprises.

Some of the recommendations reached at the forum include prompt payments by the government to SME contractors and realignment of TIVET institutions to produce more skilled graduates.

The traders also called for more government support for the aquaculture sector where Kenya is said to have a potential to produce 11 million metric tonnes of fish as opposed to the less than 400,000 tonnes it produces currently.


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