SMEs advised to tap external markets to boost growth

SMEs in Kenya have been advised to tap external markets to scale their businesses during Covid-19. 

In efforts to ensure an expansion environment, Betty Maina the Industrialization CS has negotiated several bilateral and multilateral trade agreements. If SMEs tap into these agreements, they will be able to grow their businesses amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic. 

Among the trade agreements, the latest trade deal is between Kenya and the UK. The Kenya and UK deal is set to see duty on 82.6% of UK products abolished after 25 years. 

SMEs Conference and Expo 2021

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

The Cabinet Secretary spoke during a 2-day conference and exposition for SMEs in Kenya.

The Nation Media Group in partnership with Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) organized the exposition. This event saw an attendance of 140 exhibitors, a higher number than the previous expo in 2020.

“This year’s conference has attracted 140 exhibitors. This shows that the interest in what we are doing continues to grow,” NMG chief executive Stephen Gitagama .

According to Gitagama, the exhibition gives SMEs the chance to showcase their products, network, expand their brand and to innovate. 

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

The just concluded event focused on resilience and recovery for SMEs as they continue to face the effects of Covid-19. Unfortunately, small businesses and medium sized enterprises were hit the hardest by Covid-19. Most layed off their employees and others had to have salaries cut a good percentage. Above all that, many businesses had to shut down due to cash flow issues. 

Businesses such as retail stores, bars and restaurants experienced a decline in customer demand. As a result most of them couldn’t repay their bank loans, couldn’t pay rent for their spaces or even utility bills. There has also been a noted increase in non-performing loans as SMEs try to keep their businesses running.