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Letters

LETTERS: MSMEs play important role in the economy

artisan
An artisan at work. PHOTO | FILE  

Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMES) play an important role in an economy and need support more so now.

Many times it has been observed that small businesses of various sizes are key to economic development besides creating the much needed employment world over. The micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) play an important role in the success of an economy.

Last year and not long before that, I did see and hear a lot of cries from business people particularly micro and small ones on low money circulation, low business, crackdown on substandard goods, delays on clearing of imported goods, influx of Chinese traders in Gikomba among others in Kenya. Indeed there has been an outcry of poor market conditions among these segments of businesses or what we could classify largely as MSMEs. Well in line with the trend of the economy and labour market the cry was not farfetched. Well the crackdown for substandard goods and counterfeits had been necessitated to protect consumers which have its benefits in industrialization and health wise among others.

At any rate if corruption thrives in a country for so long it becomes a norm and destroys the society fabric in its entirety as evil has a way of replicating, multiplication and continuously destroying everything in its wake as it sets new norms that hurt the society and all these have been products of that. Corruption and counterfeits and such trade malpractices are intertwined. From early this year we have been threatened by a more formidable adversary that has been the disaster of Coronavirus –Covid 19 which has not only threatened our physical health as people but that of businesses and economies.

The MSMEs have been really hurt very hard. I have been doing research by talking to so many small traders in Nairobi and other towns in Kenya by phone and the situation is dire. It’s dire not because of anything much we could have done as a country but it’s a pandemic not to have been foreseen. Unfortunately it is not to go away that soon. Until a vaccine and effective medicine/drugs come into the fore we are in for a huge mountain to climb globally.

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May as it maybe we have a situation where many have been pushed to what is generally referred to as survival mode. This is to survive or earn a living by any means possible for the time being. Kenya faces a crossroad in economic terms much as there have been some genuine efforts to salvage in several areas like in manufacturing and in trying to build infrastructure notwithstanding the costing some which have been severally doubted and the huge debts incurred especially from China that we are already feeling the pinch of servicing them and now comes a pandemic. That notwithstanding we have a date in building our own local enterprises and entrepreneurs that has been rather lethargic for long. Whatever makes it so difficult for micro enterprises to grow small to medium and eventually to large business organisations need to be addressed.

After all a lot of employment is generated by business organisations such that in any decent economy an overwhelming majority have to be working in private enterprises whether owning them, self employed or as employees and generating taxes that support government numerous services and for building the country and economy.

Covid-19 has came about at one of the worst time in Kenya as its economy was already struggling but showing a lot of signs of hope. Nonetheless, it did hit the economy when also we needed to rejig it. It has been on the cards that we needed to do something to lift manufacturing among the key sectors to create the much needed employment for various cadres of labour.

After all we have become an economy of importing almost everything whilst there are so many commodities or items we could comfortably manufacture in Kenya with the right economic paradigm. The same for tourism which also can produce so many levels of employment and in large numbers. Obviously even with this in place or in mind the MSMEs who form the bulk of employment needed a new lease of life.

We need manufacturers and tourism industry and virtually all the sectors including the financial sector, agriculture and not forgetting the information technology and others to do their bit as they have massive impacts to the economic growth and opportunities for employment, but also not to forget there is a lot that MSMEs can do. Moreover, over time it has been known that some of the organisations or firms that play into this level, scale up to the global behemoths that we see today.

Harrison Mwirigi Ikunda, Nairobi

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