In cooperation with the World Bank, the Kenyan Government has initiated a project to strengthen the country’s economy through small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In a joint venture with Intellecap, NIRAS will support select businesses through capacity-building and performance-based funding.
Home to almost 50 million people, Kenya is the most advanced economy in East Africa. Over the past decade, Kenya has made significant strides on the economic, social and political fronts, and yet some of its key development challenges still include poverty, inequality, and a continued weak private sector. To foster growth and increase productivity in the private sector, the Kenyan Government has - in cooperation with the World Bank -launched the Kenya Industry and Entrepreneurship Project (KIEP).
SMEs constitute a huge potential for an economy like Kenya’s, especially in increasing the middle-class bracket, which is a critical mass of consumers to any economy. A large amount of obstacles, however, constrain SMEs from scaling up – and size matters. With size comes scalability, quality, consistency, and innovation, crucial factors for the success of a company. With expert knowledge and a considerable network of resources in the region, NIRAS will support 250 qualifying SMEs across various manufacturing and trade-exposed service sectors.
The project team will be in charge of all aspects of the delivery and administration, including outreach and engagement of beneficiaries and key stakeholders. The SMEs selected will receive an integrated package of diagnostic and advisory services and, through capacity-building and performance-based funding, will be bolstered to implement the changes necessary to increase revenues and sustainable profitability.
Their ability to maintain competitiveness on the market is essential to the success of SMEs. Training on managerial and technical skills like process optimisation, KPIs, certification, and marketing will therefore be provided to the SMEs, enabling them to become attractive suppliers for larger Kenyan or international firms with established domestic supply chains.
NIRAS joined forces with Intellecap to bid for the project and won the component aiming to increase productivity and innovation in Kenyan SMEs. The winning tender drew on the comprehensive level of experience NIRAS and Intellecap have in the region, including numerous assignments supporting fund management, and private sector development for clients such as Danida, EuropeAid, and KfW. Supporting SMEs in developing economies is a particular area of expertise established through projects such as PACEPEP in Mali, where NIRAS created and cultivated thousands of jobs through technical assistance and value chain interventions.
As a company guided by the UN’s 17 SDGs, expanding and supporting the Kenyan economy will not be the only objectives of the project. NIRAS will also focus on supporting female-led companies to combat gender inequality, as women in Kenya still face significant social and economic disparities. Alleviating gender inequality in developing economies is nothing new to NIRAS. The project team will be able to draw upon experience from numerous similar projects in Kenya, as well as Rwanda, India, and Indonesia to name a few.
On the environmental front, there are huge gains to be made – both for the climate and for the companies. SMEs particularly stand to benefit from implementing sustainable business practices, as such practices constitute a significant competitive advantage on the market. Larger firms will prefer sustainably attentive components in their supply chains, whose sustainable ambitions correlate to their own.