YOUTH AND WOMEN

Richard Ngatia brings small traders to big boys' table

Led chamber to ink Sh200bn deal with Equity Bank to cushion businesses from Covid effects.

In Summary
  • NCIC was said to belong to just the big boys, but Ngatia is making it more inclusive and helping small traders and businesses.
  • In April – a month after Covid hit – KNCCI and businesses set up an online shopping platform to facilitate orders and deliveries for small businesses. And it has facilitated loans.
Richard Ngatia, president of the Kenya National Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
CHAMBER BOSS: Richard Ngatia, president of the Kenya National Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Image: FILE:

When he was unanimously declared president of the Kenya National Chambers of Commerce and Industry last year, Richard Ngatia promised to do things differently.

Chosen in May, he was not about to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, Kiprono Kittony, who left big shoes to fill.

Ngatia came with his own big ideas and his own different big shoes – and he is filling them perfectly

KNCCI has a duty to promote and protect the interests of business, but there has been a widespread feeling the organisation is meant to help the big boys, the biggest companies. Others have felt excluded.

Ngatia himself is the managing director and CEO of Megascope Healthcare, so he is one of the big boys.

That doesn’t blind him to the needs of vast numbers of small businesses. And to the needs of youth and women in business.

Through Ngatia’s leadership, however, this perception has been changed in just one year as he seeks to build a more inclusive business community.

“I committed to focusing on member services and value, networking, advocacy, partnerships, inclusion and economic development to realise our long-term goals,” Ngatia told the Star.

Armed with strong leadership skills, business acumen and government support, Ngatia was propelling the chamber to the next level.

Then Covid-19 hit, hurting members and the country’s socioeconomic fabric.

The year 2020 has posed enormous challenges for KNCCI since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Ngatia said, however, the chamber has been resilient and delivered value to members.

“We have created and implemented partnerships with stakeholders, economic development agencies,” he said.

“We have increased visibility and promoted the importance of the chamber in the wider business community and at government levels,’’ Ngatia said.

In April – a month after Covid hit – KNCCI and businesses set up an online shopping platform to facilitate orders and deliveries for small businesses.

The need for containment measures and social distancing took a toll on supply chains and consumers weren’t buying as before.

Ngatia led the chamber to sign a Sh200 billion deal with Equity Bank to cushion businesses from the effects of Covid-19.

Both parties agreed to empower businesses by building their capacities and operations through training and business mentorship.

The chamber and the Mastercard Foundation established a Covid-19 recovery programme to help at least 100,000 micro and small enterprises run by youth and women.

The scheme provides short-term, interest-free loans to help them continue operations and maintain staff. The loans come from a Sh600 million fund established by the Mastercard Foundation.

The chamber has also partnered with Trademark EA to support women on cross-border and regional business development and the FSD Kenya retail pay programme to support working capital and distributorships.

Ngatia’s leadership skills have been recognised across the region. He was appointed to chair the Great Lakes Region Private Sector Forum.

The forum aims to open up regional and international market linkages, especially for youth and women.

When not handling affairs of the chamber or shuttling across the continent, the former Nairobi business chamber chairman is managing affairs of Megascope.

Little is known about his private life, and that’s the way the magnate wants to keep it.