Guests follow proceedings during a recent SME conference at a Nairobi hotel. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU


  • The institute has come up with courses to bridge knowledge and skills gap among enterprises.

The evolution of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) has been influenced by the meeting of like minds to build on innovative ideas that have led to the profitable harnessing of market forces. Most begin small, actualise their expenditure and expand.

It is generally recognised that SMEs face unique issues, which affect their growth and profitability and hence, diminish their ability to contribute effectively to sustainable development of any economy.

For the SME sector to grow there is need for the sector to adequately strengthen itself and come up with solid solutions that can be implemented over time.

Among the key issues and challenges facing the entrepreneurs in the sub-sector includes inadequate business knowledge and skills.

These include record keeping, appropriate accounting structures, reconciliation of purchases and sales to enhance the profit margin.

This capacity gap is illustrated by the rate at which new businesses in this region spring up and collapse even before their first birthday, unlike in Asia where business enterprises thrive under even tougher circumstances and grow into mega companies.

A key factor in this disparity is the saving culture and lifestyle system, both of which are intrinsic values for successful businesses. Such a venture is the best model from which to derive functions that can be applied to the East African model to develop and sustain our SMEs.

It is with a view to addressing some of these knowledge and skill gaps that the African Institute for Capacity Development (Aicad) developed its Enterprise Development Course.

The course is delivered by highly qualified and experienced resource persons and facilitators sourced from both governmental and private organisations such as universities, research institutions, industries, non-governmental and community based organisations and relevant government departments and agencies within and outside Africa.

Through this collaboration, Aicad has trained over 500 small scale entrepreneurs spread across Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Most of these course participants were people involved in small-scale businesses of various kinds.

Through the institute’s monitoring and evaluation programme it has been established that the training has been of great benefit to the participants.

Some of the benefits reported include enhanced knowledge on requirements for necessary registration and certificates, increased awareness of opportunities for addressing the lack of credit, improved business skills, consciousness of challenges that can arise from HIV/Aids pandemic among others, translating of course into increased incomes.

The experience gained by Aicad has positioned the institute well to make an even greater contribution to efforts towards enhancing SMEs growth in the region.

Aicad is particularly keen on contributing to invigorating the SME setting through networking with the various players and stakeholders at all levels.

It is for this reason that Aicad feels particularly honoured to be taking the institute’s programme to the next level through partnership with renowned institutions such as KPMG, Diamond Trust Bank and Nation Media Group.