Kenya’s next government could boost economic growth and job creation by prioritising startups and small businesses in its policies, according to Nikki Summers, East Africa regional director at Sage.
With Kenya’s general elections looming in August, Summers says the new government has a prime opportunity to boost the country’s economy by putting micro, small and medium enterprises first in its policy making.
Summers says the current government has put significant effort and investment into creating an enabling environment for entrepreneurs to thrive, and as such the incoming government has a strong foundation to build on.
As MSMEs have the potential to contribute up to 80 per cent of jobs in emerging economies such as Kenya, Summers says they should be afforded a special priority in policy making.
“With GDP expected to expand by around 6 per cent this year, Kenya is on the right track for growth. Improving the ease of doing business and following sound macro-economic policies will help ensure that this pace of growth continues, also offering an environment where SMEs can flourish,” she says.
“As important as large infrastructure projects are, SMEs are the engines of job creation and the most efficient vehicle for redistributing and creating prosperity for the benefit of ordinary people.”
There are certain areas essential for the government to focus on in creating pro-entrepreneurship policies, Summer says.
First, sustainable financing is currently a key sticking point for small businesses, with 30 per cent of small businesses to have shut down in Kenya over the past five years citing shortage of funding support.
Government should also look at ways of encouraging the uptake of business technologies, such as record-keeping, accounting, and payroll softwares. In this way, small businesses could improve their financial and tax compliance, as well as their financial planning.
The area of procurement is one where government could have a big impact on supporting small local companies, Summers says.
“The procurement budget is one of the best tools government has to help develop emerging businesses. By giving small businesses preferential treatment in tenders, paying them quickly for work they do, and helping them develop skills, government can help them grow their businesses to the next level.”
Finally, Summers concedes it is not only government that has a role to play in developing the entrepreneurship sector. Business forums and big businesses should also take part in nurturing the sector alongside government.
“Mentoring programmes, where business builders can learn from established entrepreneurs and businesspeople, as well as platforms that connect small businesses to big business and government, could all help smaller businesses to grow and thrive.”