Economy

SMEs advised to tap external markets to drive expansion

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Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development CS Betty Maina during SMEs Conference. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT | NMG

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Summary

  • Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been advised to take advantage of external markets to grow their businesses amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Industrialisation Cabinet secretary Betty Maina said Kenya has negotiated several bilateral and multilateral trade agreements that SMEs should tap into.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been advised to take advantage of external markets to grow their businesses amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Industrialisation Cabinet secretary Betty Maina said Kenya has negotiated several bilateral and multilateral trade agreements that SMEs should tap into.

The latest deal is the newly signed economic partnership agreement between Kenya and UK that will eventually see duty on 82.6 percent of products originating from the UK abolished after 25 years.

“Take advantage of the external markets that Kenya has negotiated for you by scaling production, increasing efficiency and diversifying products,” she told a forum for SMEs convened by the Nation Media Group (NMG).

The two-day conference and exposition organised in partnership with the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) concludes today in Nairobi.

This year’s event attracted 140 exhibitors, which is far higher than the 80 it attracted last year.

NMG chief executive Stephen Gitagama noted that the exhibition offers the SMEs an opportunity to showcase their products, network, expand markets and innovate.

“This year’s conference has attracted 140 exhibitors meaning that the interest in what we are doing continues to grow,” he said.

This year’s event paid special focus on resilience and recovery of SMEs at a time the sector is reeling from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Small businesses were hit hardest by the coronavirus disease leading to job layoffs, salary cuts and business closures due to dwindling revenue.

“So this year we are focusing on resilience and recovery of the SMEs, noting that their sustainability is critical for the country’s economy post-Covid,” said Mr Gitagama.

Businesses such as restaurants, bars and retail stores are struggling with a decline in customer demand, repayment of bank loans, rent and utility bills fuelling worries of a spike in non-performing loans.