BY MARTIN MWITA
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Kenya are set to benefit from renewed efforts by Invest in Africa Kenya to connect them to big players in the industry.
Invest in Africa Kenya hosted SMEs subscribed in their African Partner Pool Platform (APP) to meet with Multinationals and Large Local Buyers in Nairobi last week.
The APP is an online cross-sector business platform that promotes Kenyan SMEs, gives them access to tenders and finance, whilst helping multinationals find quality suppliers.
IIA is a partnership of leading private sector businesses, working to create better access to skills, markets and finance for local SMEs.
The forum saw multinationals and large local buyers pledge to post their commercial opportunities on the African Partner Pool (APP) for SMEs to access and apply.
The APP is an online platform designed to bridge the gap between larger organizations with local SMEs, allowing them to do business efficiently.
” IIA’s 10-year vision is to create thriving African economies by having USD 1B worth of tenders won on the APP and creating 100,000 jobs across the continent. Less than four months after the launch of the APP platform, we are proud to have registered over 650 SME suppliers in this innovative platform.
By directly linking ‘Buyers’ (multinationals and large local corporations) with ‘Suppliers’ (Small and Medium sized Enterprises), the APP delivers connections in a transparent and efficient manner, ” IIA country director Patricia Ithau said .
APP offers innovative features such as the Ujuzi Hub (a Knowledge Hub) that contains information tool kits for SMEs to improve their businesses, and the Biashara Network – a private online community space where the SMEs can post their catalogues and promote themselves to other suppliers, allowing them an opportunity to grow their businesses.
Equity bank’s credit risk manager Timothy Mwatha said: “The supplier vetting process of the APP platform by Invest in Africa is enough in qualifying SMEs to access finance from the bank”.
He encouraged SMEs to take advantage of the opportunities in the APP platform in growing their business capabilities , saying he is confident that the APP platform will help them overcome some of the challenges they face in evaluating the credit risk.
Samuel Kinyanjui, a senior manager in procurement at Safaricom said : “Safaricom is partnering with Invest in Africa to grow the supplier diversity of their supply chain”.
He urged SMEs to uphold ethical business practice as they have stringent vetting criteria for suppliers.
Marcus Beer, manager, Tullow Kenya said: “Tullow has localised its businesses in the markets they operate in there and opportunities exist across its supply chain for local businesses”.
Equity bank head of procurement Jamlick Wanyoike underscored that lack of collaborative partnerships as one of the main challenges they experience with SMEs tendering for jobs.
The business forum was held at The Desmond Tutu Conference Center, Westlands and attracted over 100 SMEs from different sectors.