Youth, women SMEs to get Sh11bn tenders in Unilever deal


Unilever Kenya CEO managing director Luck Ochieng with Invest In Africa Kenya lead Terry Kinyua (right) during the signing of a partnership between Unilever and Invest in Africa to accelerate trade for marginalised SMEs by enhancing their access to procurement opportunities. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Unilever Kenya has launched a partnership that will see small and medium-sized entities run by the youth, women and people with disabilities get access to tenders worth Sh10.7 billion at the consumer goods group.

The company behind OMO, Geisha and Vaseline has partnered with non-profit firm, Invest in Africa, which offers training and tender opportunities for small traders through a digital platform, Biashara.Now.

The partnership seeks to provide tenders worth Sh10.78 billion ($100 million) to the small firms in a deal expected to create up to one million jobs by 2025 in a push to reduce income inequalities.

“We shall continue to drive diversity and inclusion in our value chain by removing barriers and biases in creating more employment opportunities. To drive this commitment, we shall increase the participation of minority SMEs in our supply chains,” said Unilever Kenya managing director Luck Ochieng.

Small and medium-sized entities run by the youth, women and people with disabilities have struggled to tap tenders in big companies, leaving the multi-billion shilling supply deals to moneyed firms.

Unilever is seeking to model its tenders on government, which seeks to reserve up to 30 per cent of State tenders to businesses belonging to youth, women and persons with disability.

Under the Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO), firms owned youth, women and persons with disability are offered a share of State tenders without competition from established firms.

“Through this partnership with Unilever, we hope to create an economy where that thrives for everyone…where all participate as entrepreneurs, workers and consumers,” said Terry Kinyua, country manager of Invest in Africa.