SMEs Need More Than Financial Support From Government – Blaze Winner

Nekesa Queens Limited

Word in the street has it that most plus size women struggle shopping for clothes, and finding the right match is an uphill task for many. Valentine Nekesa Safaricom Blaze Season One Winner, and Founder of Nekesa Queens Limited, a plus size fashion line decided to invest her resources into this niche that is often not given the much attention that is needed. While entrepreneurship is more than finances, Valentine shared her thoughts on what should be done to keep more SMEs in operation.

The journey into entrepreneurship is often constrained by finances. Three out of five startups barely make it to their third year as they collapse and die. The few that remain solid have to be very strategic about their operations to remain afloat. While the motive to generate revenues pushes one into business, effectively running day to day operations to meet the needs of consumers is equally demanding.

“Any business venture is profitable as long as you efficiently tap into the market. I have endeavored to offer plus-size women the best customer experience and while at it making it profitable sales. People buy experience,” she said.

A recent national economic survey report by the central bank of Kenya revealed that that SME’s constitute 98% of all businesses in Kenya. They create 30% of the jobs annually and contribute up to 3% of the Gross Domestic Product in the country. Government through Youth Fund, Uwezo Fund, and Women Enterprise Funds have been providing affordable start-up loans to youths registered in groups and interested in venturing into a social-economic activity. While some have benefitted from the funds, others have not had the chance to tap into these funds because of bureaucracy and have had to exploit alternatives.

Financial support to the youth is one venue that the government has put emphasis on to help SMEs scale. SMEs need to be trained so they can have knowledge on how to run the business, they need to understand the market dynamics in terms of prices forces of supply and demand, taxes just to mention but a few. According to Valentine, the government should partner with companies offering training in business management, so that while SMEs have cash in their hands, they have knowledge on how best to use it to expand their businesses.

“Most SMEs are established through trial and error. They need skillful training that will enable them up their game and focus on strategic plans rather than operational plans. Inadequate knowledge and skills paralyze the growth of SMEs.

“Every managerial position regardless of whether its a small shop, supermarket or enterprise warrants for adequate education and skill. Proper financial skills and business management skills will help in the management of scarce resources. I believe if all businesses are well equipped with the knowledge we will be on another level,” she said.

The Informal Sector constituted mostly by SMEs needs to stay vibrant in these tough economic times. The government should implement policies for existing SMEs in the market to pave way for their growth, to contribute more to the economy.