In Summary

•The new body will facilitate capacity building, professional development, networking and partnerships for SMEs

• Over 75% of SMEs collapse within three years of startup due to challenges 

ASSEK chairperson Bernard Chiira (left) sign a memorandum of understanding with deputy head of mission at the Finnish Embassy in Kenya Ramses Malaty, May 21, 2019.
Image: TRIZZA KIMANI

An SME support agency has signed an MoU with the Finnish embassy in Nairobi aimed at promoting and positioning Kenyan start-ups internationally.

Speaking on Tuesday during the launch, Assek chairperson Bernard Chiira said over 75 per cent of Kenyan SMEs collapse within three years of starting due to financing, marketing, information and infrastructure challenges and lack of supportive and managerial skills.

“The association’s objective is to create a platform that will drive policy and agenda for members of the association with the government, development partners, investors and other key stakeholders to develop rigorous ecosystem standards and guidelines,” Chiira said.

The Association of Startups and SMEs enablers of Kenya (Assek) will also facilitate capacity building, professional development, networking and partnerships, compliance and protection of its members.

 It also enables members to actively scout for and facilitate access to opportunities through collaborations and partnerships.

Assek incorporates incubation and innovation hubs, co-working space, accelerator programs and business support service providers who work directly with SMEs and startups across Kenya.

The launch comes at an opportune time when President Uhuru Kenyatta just launched Kenya’s Digital Economy Blueprint which offers citizens, enterprises and organizations digital access to the economy.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KEBS), SMEs contribute  over 35 per cent of Kenya's GDP and employs over 30 per cent of the population in 98 per cent of all registered businesses.

Following the launch, Kenya’s key innovations and startups will enjoy international visibility, enhance public sector awareness and increase visibility of startups for support and investment.

Deputy Ambassador to the Finnish Embassy in Nairobi, Ramses Malaty, said the partnership will guide cooperation between Assek and Finland through the Nairobi embassy and promote collaboration between the Finnish and Kenyan ecosystem.

“We are delighted to sign the MoU and we will work together to facilitate member access to various opportunities in the quest for a sustainable ecosystem for startups and SMEs,” he said.

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