Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are key engines of economic growth. They make a significant contribution through outputs, employment, job creation and innovation.
In Kenya, such enterprises play a key role in economic development, contributing 33.8% of GDP and 81.1% of employment opportunities, according to the 2016 National MSME Survey. However, 98% of businesses in Kenya are estimated to be in the informal sector, with most run by young people aged between 18-35 and women.
It is in regards to this that Kenya now becomes the fortieth country to join a United Nations-led programme,Empretec Network, that helps promote entrepreneurship by building capacity for small businesses around the globe.
The official launch of the Empretec programme in Kenya took place in Nairobi, in the presence of UNCTAD’s Secretary-General, Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, the Cabinet Secretary of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives, H.E. Adan Mohamed, and Mr. Jack Ma, UNCTAD Special Advisor for Youth Entrepreneurship and Small Business and a UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocate, the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group.
“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. We foresee graduation of many MSMEs from informal to formal enterprises. This will be good for the country,” said CS Mohamed.
Kenya will be able to derive significant benefits from the integration and skills development of its large, yet unproductive, informal sector. The country’s Vision 2030 strategy, adopted in 2007, acknowledges the need to support the informal sector to raise productivity and distribution, jobs, owners’ incomes and public revenues.
“Empretec can therefore 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,” said Dr. Kituyi.
Empretec is UNCTAD’s flagship capacity-building programme coordinated from Geneva, Switzerland, by its Enterprise Branch of the Division of Investment and Enterprise. The programme focuses on developing countries and economies and transitions. Besides promoting entrepreneurship and enhancing productive capacity, it also seeks to boost the international competitiveness of MSMEs.
The programme is implemented through its National Centres, established in 39 countries. Since its inception in 1988, Empretec has successfully trained more than 420,000 people, helping them to found or expand businesses, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process.
During last year’s UNCTAD XIV conference in Nairobi, Kenya, UNCTAD announced that Kenya would be the fortieth country to join the Empretec network. The launch ceremony takes place at the end of a six-day Empretec entrepreneurship workshop led by UNCTAD’s international master trainers in cooperation with local counterparts.
Following the Empretec workshop, on 22-25 July UNCTAD will also organize a four-day training-of-trainers workshop bringing together participants from Kenya and other countries in the region. They will go through an advanced learning session, required for them to be certified as national Empretec trainers. The events are hosted by the Kenya Institute of Business Training of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives.