Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have long been considered the backbone of the Kenyan economy. In fact, according to data captured by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, they make up about 98% of all businesses in Kenya with over 80% of the total population in Kenya depending on them for income. For the estimated 840,600 jobs created in 2018, SMEs accounted for the 83.6% of those jobs created.
However, despite the big impact that the SMEs have had on our economy, they still face a myriad of challenges that hinder their growth. A number of those issues that have been raised in numerous forums include inadequate capital, limited market access, poor infrastructure, inadequate knowledge and skills and rapid changes in technology.
Of the five factors mentioned, inadequate knowledge is one that can be solved if SMEs embraced business trainings. While businesses budget to boost their products, market their products, pay salaries and other overhead expenses, very little is budgeted for staff training and yet this is how they acquire new knowledge to boost their businesses. There is always a new way to present your product to the market and a new technology that can improve the quality of your product but you will never know of them until you open yourself to learn and invest in acquiring new knowledge.
SMEs can work together through organized groups to seize available opportunities by being part of business forums as they learn from each other. As a result, this can bring forth a chance for different businesses to share experiences, lessons or even challenges as they seek to learn from their counterparts.
SMEs can also boost their knowledge through enrolling for business courses in institutions such as business schools or the many colleges dotted around the country offering business courses. Signing up for membership with institutions such as the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI), who routinely offer courses on different business topics, would really benefit a business.
Through the Family Bank Business Club, Family Bank has also played a big role in helping build the capacity of businesses in our membership. They benefit from regular trainings in a wide range of areas that strengthen and build their knowledge to drive their businesses forwards. The Family Bank Business Club also organizes annual business mentorship trips to foreign countries where members get to exchange knowledge and ideas with business people in those countries operating in the same sectors. In the past few years, there have been tours to China, the US, Holland, Israel and Italy.
With devolution, the 47 county governments can also play a role in helping build capacity of the businesses in their jurisdictions. Each of them has a ministry or departments charged with overseeing the interest of the business community in the respective areas. This can help supplement the role that the central government is playing in creating an enabling environment for SMEs and business in general, to thrive.
Upgrading the knowledge and skills of your employees and understanding other strategies that can be used in running your business is central to your firm’s performance.