By Khalifa Hemed
Published July 21, 2017
Though Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are said to contribute some 33.8% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 81.1% of employment opportunities in Kenya, 98% of them not only exist outside the formal economy but are run by women and youth without formal training in business.
Wishing to reap even more from its large yet untapped informal sector, Kenya has joined a United Nations programme that promotes entrepreneurship by training players in the sector and promoting small businesses around the globe.
Kenya joined Empretec, touted as the flagship capacity-building programme of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), on July 20, 2017. The official launch of the programme was graced by the presence of Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, the Secretary-General of UNCTAD; Adan Mohamed, Kenya’s Minister for Industry, Trade and Cooperatives; and Jack Ma, the founder and executive chairman of e-commerce company Alibaba Group of China and UNCTAD’s Special Advisor for Youth Entrepreneurship and Small Business.
Ma, who addressed young entrepreneurs and students at University of Nairobi in the Kenyan capital, arrived in Kenya accompanied by 38 Chinese business magnates from the Beijing Chamber of Commerce.
“We thank UNCTAD for the opportunity and support to establish an Empretec Centre in Kenya. The centre will go a long way in developing and promoting Entrepreneurship in the Country,” Minister Mohamed said. “We foresee graduation of many MSMEs from informal to formal enterprises. This will be good for the country.”
On his part, Dr Kituyi said, “Empretec can play a central role in inspiring entrepreneurship and developing the right skills to start and grow MSMEs, thus stimulating economic growth through job creation, helping formalize businesses, creating opportunities for and thereby empowering disadvantaged groups such as youth and women, and strengthening local productive capacity.”
UNCTAD says the Empretec programme–that is implemented through its National Centres across 39 countries–seeks to boost the international competitiveness of MSMEs besides promoting entrepreneurship and enhancing productive capacity of MSMEs.
Empretec, UNCTAD says, has trained more than 420000 people,” helping them to found or expand businesses, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process” since its inception in 1988.