British Airways and Safaricom have announced the winners of the Emerging Enterprise Initiative launched last November. The initiative was launched to boost Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) by offering them access to international markets or a chance to source their supplies from source markets, at the most affordable and competitive rates.
The companies that emerged as winners include Tiny Totos, Pegg Entertainment, Ukall Limited, Zamoyo Limited and Jiinue Holdings from over 100 companies who registered for the campaign. The winners will each receive British Airways’ 48,000 On Business points an equivalent of a return Business Class ticket to London and Kshs 100,000 worth of Safaricom airtime to promote their businesses in any of the 114 British Airways destinations around the world.
Kenya’s financial sector has seen rapid growth over the last few years and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have played a big part in that growth. With a fast rising population of unemployed youth in the country, the introduction of SMEs has brought employment to over 80% of the youth and is seen as a ready solution to the crippling state that is the country’s unemployment situation.
With this in mind, the Emerging Enterprises Initiative introduced the campaign to offer a chance for such businesses to boost their networks in the international market and the chance to source their supplies from outside markets at the most affordable and competitive rates.
Safaricom’s Head of SME & Channels Arjun Singh Dhillon said Safaricom delights in developing solutions to common day to day challenges faced by its customers. “We believe the gifts of airtime issued to the winners will go a long way in providing communication solutions to the winning SME’s and expose them to the next level in business as they transact in the most timely and cost effective way.” Mr. Dhillon pointed out that Kenya leads in terms of innovative technology and urged budding companies not to be left behind by utilizing the available products offered by the company.
“British Airways appreciates all who participated in the Emerging Enterprises Initiative campaign. We urge Kenya’s SME’s to travel and connect with other international investors not only for business but also as learning or benchmarking opportunity” said British Airways Commercial Manager for East and Southern Africa, Mr Edward Frost during the winners’ announcement. He added that the growth of local companies is of great interest to British Airways as this would directly or indirectly impact on the Airlines business as well as contribute toward the country’s economic development.
How are some of the ways that SMEs have helped in enhancing economic growth in Kenya?
1. SMEs have enhanced competition and entrepreneurship hence they have external benefits on economy wide efficiency, innovation and aggregate productivity. They have also been seen to be primary vehicles by which new entrepreneurs provide the economy with a continuous supply of ideas, skills, and innovations. With the growing gap in the country’s employment rate, SMEs are an important sub sector in Kenya’s economy since it employs about 80% of the Kenyan workforce.
2. Unlike most developing countries, Kenya has in its official development policies recognized informal enterprise as more than a residual employer for the survival of poor households. In its Sessional paper number 2 of 1992, the government identifies the small scale enterprise sector for support to assist it to “graduate into the formal sector” and to become a major player in the creation of new jobs and economic growth.
3. In the informal sector, especially in the Jua kali, practical skills are developed at low costs. Unlike other formal jobs that require an extensive educational background and years of experience, this sector absorbs many young job seekers into labor intensive enterprises without the worry of having adequate business skills. As much as this might be seen as a setback with most of the employees only having basic levels of education, it has created jobs and helped these young people be able to earn a substantial amount of income.
4. Until the SMEs in Kenya are promoted, the Vision 2030 may never be a reality. SMEs contribute to economic development by virtue of their sheer numbers and increasing share in employment and Gross Domestic Product (GDP).