(From left): Optiven Limited Chief Executive Officer George Wachiuri, KPMG East Africa boss Josphat Mwaura, Nation Media Group CEO Joe Muganda, and his predecessor Linus Gitahi during the Top 100 Mid-Sized Companies final forum cocktail at Serena Hotel in Nairobi on August 27, 2015.

Small firms advised to target regional markets Former Nation Media Group Chief Executive Linus Gitahi has challenged small and medium sized businesses, which achieved recognition in the Top 100 SMEs competition, to expand beyond Kenyan borders to achieve their full potential.

Speaking at a Business Daily Top 100 Companies forum in Nairobi last week, Mr Gitahi also urged their owners to hire professionals in order to push their businesses up the growth ladder.

FAMILY OWNED BUSINESSES

He said most enterprises start as family or individually-owned businesses, but needed to transform along the way into multinationals and claim their place in the global markets.

“We need to have these home-grown organisations start to conquer out there. We also have to get into that culture of getting the right talent that we can entrust to run the businesses professionally,” said Mr Gitahi.

The forum brought together former winners of the competition as well as business leaders who shared their experiences and challenges in growing their businesses over the years into large companies employing thousands of workers.

NMG Chief Executive Joe Muganda, who formally took over stewardship of the competition from Mr Gitahi, lauded the role that mid-sized companies are playing in growing human capital in Kenya.

“Any successful country in the world relies on this mid-sized tier of businesses to grow. We have to make sure we keep this sector growing, but a lot of it is informal so we have to formalise it,” said Mr Muganda, who also committed to support and grow the programme.

The annual competition is run by the Business Daily and financial consultancy KPMG.

It focuses on SMEs that have audited results for the last three years, are not listed on the stock exchange and have an annual turnover of between Sh70 million and Sh1 billion.

Real estate firm Optiven emerged top out of 258 companies that participated in the 2014 edition that was dominated by manufacturing and tech firms.

MEANT TO CELEBRATE

The competition is meant to celebrate and encourage top SMEs, the engines of economic growth and job creation.

Small firms that have previously participated in the competition and whose annual turnover has grown beyond Sh1 billion are promoted to the Club 101, with six making the grade last year.