County chief woos investors to tap west Kenya market Savvy investors should ride on the recent creation of the Western Kenya economic bloc to spur trade and grow their businesses, Kisumu deputy governor Ruth Odinga has said.

The economic bloc, made of 13 counties, offers a large market for medium-sized businesses to exploit and grow, Ms Odinga said, adding that direct connection to neighbouring countries through Lake Victoria is an added advantage.

“Our interest is to see businesses thrive. There is an inland dry port that can turn around the fortunes of mid-sized companies looking for cheaper means of serving their customers in neighbouring Uganda, Tanzania and beyond,” Ms Odinga told entrepreneurs during the launch of this year’s Top 100 Mid-Sized companies survey in Kisumu. The survey of the fastest growing mid-sized companies is co-sponsored by KPMG consultancy firm and the Nation Media Groups’ Business Daily newspaper.

Ms Odinga said the counties are working on a joint plan to remove non-tariff barriers that continue to inhibit cross-border trade in the Victoria circuit.

“Our intention is to make the region economically viable. Mid-sized businesses should be able to take advantage of the economies of scale created by these large markets to graduate to Club 101,” she said.

Nation Media Group CEO Joe Muganda encouraged more businesses from Western Kenya to participate in the Top 100 survey, which is a unique benchmarking opportunity that comes with a range of benefits.” We will support you to improve your governance practices. Our newspapers will champion your causes as part of the effort to improve the country’s business environment,” said Mr Muganda.

KPMG chief executive Josephat Mwaura called on Western Kenya entrepreneurs to push for the growth of cargo transport through the Kisumu International Airport. He said use of the airport to export eggs, fish and horticultural crops would create new opportunities for medium-sized firms to thrive.

“Mid-sized companies dealing in these fast moving products can grow to international brands with the application of good governance practices that are the hallmarks of the survey,” he said.

Mr Mwaura said the mid-sized companies’ survey also arms participating firms with the knowledge and skills to achieve the compliance levels they need to compete with their peers.

Mr Mwaura said there was need to implement blueprints that have been developed for transformation of trade in the region, adding that thriving enterprises would help absorb the high number of people leaving the region to seek for jobs elsewhere.

“The hinterland population around the lake basin is a stable market that can be exploited with the ongoing expansion of the road infrastructure,” he said.

Abija Kanene, KPMG regional senior manager in charge of marketing knowledge and communications, said the companies that participate in the survey will be granted opportunities to interact with their peers from other parts of Kenya besides getting registered in databases that enable them get critical support in key areas such as access to credit and insurance.

The Top 100 mid-sized companies competition is open to companies with turnovers of between Sh70 million and Sh1 billion, with three years of audited results and that have not be listed at the Nairobi Securities Exchange.

Ms Kanene said the Top 100 survey would be launched in Mombasa, Machakos and Kiambu in the coming weeks in the run-up to a gala dinner for the winners in October.

“Winners are awarded trophies and are then allowed to have the Top 100 logo on their brands a privilege that comes with many benefits.,” she said.

Winners will also be featured in a Business Daily special supplement and get to participate all year-round networking forums organised by the sponsors.