Optiven Ltd became the first real estate company to win the Top 100 mid-sized companies survey (Top 100 Survey) since the competition began in 2008.
Optiven emerged top out of 258 companies that participated in the 2014 edition that was dominated by manufacturing and tech firms.
George Wachiuri, the chief executive and founder of Optiven, said that it was a big surprise for the company since it was the first time it had participated in the competition.
“It was a big surprise for us and we thank God for it. It now means that we have to work harder,” Mr Wachiuri told the Business Daily.
He cited the company’s focus on customer service and value addition as some of the key factors that saw it emerge top in this year’s edition.
The firm specialises in selling fully serviced plots and was started in 1999.
Vehicle and Equipment Leasing Ltd was second followed by Shade Systems EA Limited, North Star Cooling Systems, Lean Energy Solutions (the 2013 winner), Wotech Kenya Ltd, Pharmaken Ltd, Synermedica, Novel Technologies Aslan Adventures, which made up the rest of the top 10 list.
The competition is run by the Business Daily and KPMG and focuses on SMEs that have audited results for the last three years, are not listed and have an annual turnover of between Sh70 million and Sh1 billion.
Six companies were promoted to the Club 101, which is for SMEs that have previously participated in the competition and whose annual turnover has grown beyond Sh1 billion.
Career Directions, Chigwell Holdings, Complast Industries, Hebatullah Brothers, Ken-Knit Kenya Ltd and Union Logistics were this year’s Club 101 entrants.
The lion’s share of entries were from manufacturing firms (19 per cent), followed by retail firms who accounted for 13 per cent of participants.
This year’s survey also found that 88 per cent of SMEs were headed by male chief executives and only 36 per cent of companies had a CEO who is below 45. The average SME in this year’s edition had 147 employees.
The number of participants also increased to 258 from 245 in 2013 including companies that are based in Murang’a, Eldoret, Taita Taveta and Malaba.
The competition is meant to celebrate and encourage top SMEs, the engines of economic growth and job creation.
Industrialisation secretary Adan Mohammed, this year’s chief guest, said that the government would set aside Sh200 million seed capital for a grant that will target entrepreneurs with feasible business plans that have not been able to secure lending from commercial banks.