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The National Construction Authority sent delegates to attend and show support for the SME Growth and Opportunity Conference 2017 held on 6-7 July at Sarova White Sands hotel and organized by the Kenya National chamber of Commerce & Industry in Mombasa County. The Conference presented two days of thought provoking and knowledge enriching with high level speakers to engage regional industry players, government representatives, entrepreneurs and business men and women. In addition, they had an impressive lineup of industry professionals, entrepreneurs and exhibitors who offered new insights, fresh perspectives and strategies on hot industry topics.
The main objectives of the conference was to provide a platform for the SMEs to present the challenges they face, to identify factors affecting the growth of SMEs, to identify areas of opportunity and growth among SMEs, to establish the key drivers of growth amongst the SMEs, to link SMEs and lending institutions and to share success stories amongst the SMEs, among many others.
The SMEs sector in Kenya like in other developing countries, plays a major role in growing and sustaining economic development. It is recognized that the SME sector forms the backbone of the economy. Despite evidence that the informal sector is the principal driver of economic growth and youth employment in Kenya accounting for 85% of new jobs, young entrepreneurs in the informal economy continue to face significant barriers to grow their business.
A recent World Bank Group study suggests there are between 365-445 million micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in emerging markets: 25-30 million are formal SMEs; 55-70 million are formal micro enterprises; and 285-345 million are informal enterprises. Moving informal SMEs into the formal sector can have considerable impact in the economy.
According to the capital markets authority (CMA) 99% of all enterprises in the world are SMES. They play a central role in the East African Economy as they are a major source of entrepreneurial skills, innovation and employment. Their importance of SME’s in Kenya is reflected in the Economic Survey 2014 which showed that 80 per cent of the 800,000 jobs created were in the informal sector that is dominated by SMEs.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics SMES account for 80% of employment and contribute over 92% of the new jobs created annually. They are the undisputed foundation of economic diversification and expansion, contributing immensely towards a positive socio-economic impact within the country. One need not go far to see the importance of SMEs in their daily lives and the economic wheel of the country. From the modest road-side industries, some of the wares are destined for the export market, and earn foreign currency to the country. Kenya Vision 2030 has recognized the role of SMEs in making Kenya a globally competitive and prosperous nation with high quality of life by 2030.
The conference whose theme was ‘Challenging Times – New Opportunities’ was important as it highlighted these challenges and proposed future interventions on the same. The conference also had networking sessions amongst the SMEs owners, business leaders, lenders, where they had a chance to exchange first-hand information on the challenges facing them