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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenya’s investors urge policy reforms
to spur growth of small enterprises  

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya must embark on comprehensive policy and regulatory reforms aimed at facilitating growth of indigenous small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that contributes an estimated 30 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), an investor lobby said on Friday.

Nick Nesbitt, chairman of Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), said that a reformed policy and regulatory environment will accelerate growth of small and medium enterprises that are major source of employment.

“The small and medium sized business segment has potential for growth that can only be sustained against a backdrop of reforms to attract capital and skilled workforce,” said Nesbitt.

“We must therefore improve the ease of doing business and adopt technological platforms to ensure small business are integrated in the global value chains,” he added.

Nesbitt spoke in Nairobi during a forum to discuss strategic partnerships that are required to scale up growth of local small and medium sized enterprises that comprise 90 percent of Kenyan business sector.

Kenya’s investor lobby in partnership with Invest in Africa (IIA) organized the forum to sensitize the small-scale business owners on the emerging opportunities in the global supply and demand chains.

Nesbitt said that investor education, adoption of digital tools and strategic linkages are key to boost access to seed capital that small and medium sized enterprises require to expand.

Wangechi Muriuki, country manager for Invest in Africa Kenyan Chapter, said that government incentives are key to help tackle bottlenecks hampering growth of small businesses in Kenya like limited access to capital, markets and skilled personnel.

“We need to improve the regulatory regime and unlock growth of small enterprises that are first line of employment for youth coming out of universities and colleges,” said Muriuki.

She noted that Kenya’s small-scale enterprises could be instrumental in realization of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda that focus on manufacturing, affordable housing, food security and universal health coverage.

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UPDATE:

African technology start-ups becoming next frontier for investments: executives

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Technology-based start-ups that have sprung up in many parts of Africa have attracted investments thanks to their potential for growth, executives said on Friday.

Tomi Davies, president of African Business Angel Network (ABAN), said the continent’s technology-driven enterprises could be the next frontier of massive capital injection from local and overseas fund managers.

“I see the African technology-based entrepreneurship space as dynamic and growing. It has become increasingly innovative but we need the supportive ecosystem to sustain this momentum,” Davies said.

He spoke in Nairobi during a tour of start-ups that are transforming agri-business, urban transport and financial services with support from multinational technology giants.

Founders of African start-ups and investors visited Kenyan innovation hubs that have transformed commerce, urban mobility, health, agriculture and education.

Davies said African governments should invest in supportive infrastructure and skills development in order to facilitate growth of local start-ups that are providing jobs to the youth.

“As investors, we are hoping governments will address infrastructure and skills gap that often hinder growth of start-ups despite abundance of talent and innovations,” said Davies.

“Specifically, we would like to see access to internet and research enhanced to enable youth come up with successful enterprises,” he added.

Davies said reform of the regulatory environment, mentorship and access to seed capital are key to unlocking the potential of African technology-based enterprises.

Global investors are keen to venture into Kenya’s nascent start-up scene that is on the verge of take-off thanks to state incentives, macro-economic stability and higher digital literacy levels among the youth.

Rachael Crawford, innovation manager for emerging markets at Village Capital, a Nairobi-based facilitator of investments in technology start-ups, said a robust entrepreneur ecosystem is key to realizing success of Africa-based incubations.

“The number of incubators and accelerators in Africa has grown exponentially, but the number of successful start-ups in the continent has not grown at the same rate,” Crawford said.

“It is still hard to raise capital and scale up a business in most parts of the continent,” she added.

           

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