World Bank lines up Sh23 billion funding for small firms in Kenya


World Bank Country Director for Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda Keith Hansen. FILE PHOTO | NMG

About 45,000 Kenyans are in line to benefit from new jobs in a Sh23 billion financing project for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

The World Bank approved the Kenya Jobs and Economic Transformation Project (KJET) on Tuesday, which targets to increase private sector investments, access to markets and sustainable finance to create and improve jobs.

The project targets 6,800 women in the MSME value chain.

“With $150 million (Sh23 billion) in financing, KJET will provide business development services aimed at strengthening viable value chains and connecting MSMEs to markets, in addition to investments in firms for the improvement of productive capacity and capabilities. In turn, these activities will enhance firms’ capacity and efficiency, translating to increased hiring and improved worker productivity,” said the World Bank.

World Bank country director for Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, and Uganda, Keith Hansen, said the project also supports the multilateral lender’s mission of ending extreme poverty.

“It will focus on empowering the private sector, driving job creation, and catalysing green investments by private investors in member countries,” he said.

The government said it was keen on the JET agenda because it aims to create more jobs through different strategies, including the Vision 2030, the fourth Medium-Term Plan (MTP4, 2023-2027), and the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda.

The government and the World Bank hope the project will mobilise at least Sh4 billion ($27 million) in private capital to complement their Sh23 billion investment.

“Beyond being a recipient of business development services and technical support, the private sector is expected to invest capital into the blended finance Green Investment Fund as well as through a novel co-investment model financing MSMEs’ productive capacity,” said the World Bank in a statement.

World Bank senior financial sector specialist and KJET task team leader, Ahmed Rostom, said KJET would offer interventions that would result in streamlined licensing processes; improved investment-related laws, regulations, and strategies; enhanced government capacity for investor outreach and government-to-business service delivery, all expected to support business and investment in Kenya.

“KJET will also focus on enhancing MSME cluster competitiveness through increased capabilities and productive capacity by extension sales, profits, and jobs at supported firms. It will also scale up green financing to improve SMEs adoption of green technologies to strengthen resilience to climatic shocks,” Rostom said.

The project will be under the State Department for MSME Development (MSME) and the State Department for Investment Promotion (Trade).

The World Bank observes that jobs in the country have been concentrated in sectors with low labour productivity, thus the need to trigger job creation within the MSME sector that contributes heavily to Kenya’s economy.

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