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Real SMEs have not benefited from state backed fund – MSEA

Financial institutions also accused of exploiting small businesses.

In Summary

A recent report by the Financial Transparency Coalition (FTC) indicated that Kenya has channeled a mere one per cent of Covid related bailout funds to SMEs, despite having a credit guarantee scheme and on lending funds by banks.

 

George Onyango with fellow jua kali artisans at his Kamukunji workshop, Nairobi /JACK OWUOR
George Onyango with fellow jua kali artisans at his Kamukunji workshop, Nairobi /JACK OWUOR

Majority of small businesses are yet to benefit from state-backed bailouts and funding under the credit guarantee scheme, according to the Micro and Small Enterprises Authority (MSEA).

The authority has now warned banks and other credit institutions against fundraising under the guise of on-lending to SMEs, but end up channeling the monies to other uses. 

It said some financial institutions have secured concession loans for SME lending, but end up charging exorbitant rates.

In September 2020, the government established a Credit Guarantee Scheme for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, as part of its interventions to cushion them from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, monies MSEA says has not benefited the targeted group.

“There are people who told the President that we have received these funds and we have not received as much as we should have. There are also those who have secured very soft loans saying they are coming to help the SMEs space but they don't,"MSEA chairman James Mureu said.

"If they don't change, we shall name and shame them,” he warned.

Mureu was addressing journalists in Nairobi on Wednesday after chairing the board's first national consultative meeting.

The state-backed Credit Guarantee Scheme commenced with an initial seed capital of Sh10 billion and was to be released in two tranches of Sh5 billion in 2020-21 and 2021-22.

Development financial institutions and participating commercial financial institutions were further expected to boost the state's contributions to at least Sh100 billion.

Banks that partnered  with the scheme include KCB, NCBA, Co-op Bank, Absa, DTB, Stanbic and Credit Bank.

Equity, which has been receiving funding from global entities for on-lending to SMEs, on the other hand announced it would lend Sh75 billion to small businesses at concessionary terms.

“People are raising funds for the SMEs but that money disappears in between. If you are giving money to SMEs let it be measurable, let it be seen, let the authority (MSEA) be aware and let the sector be able to know where the money has gone,” said Kenya National Federation of Jua Kali Associations chief executive, Richard Muteti, said:

A recent report by the Financial Transparency Coalition (FTC) shows that Kenya has channeled a mere one per cent of Covid related bailout funds to SMEs, despite having a credit guarantee scheme and on lending funds by banks.

The informal private sector has on the other hand received no financial support from the government according to the report.

Social protection has benefited from a paltry seven per cent of bail out funds with the majority of the funds (92 per cent) going towards major corporates (corporate stimulus).

The findings were from an analysis of the pandemic’s public bailout funds dubbed ‘Towards a People’s Recovery: Tracking Fiscal and Social Protection Responses to Covid-19 in the Global South.

FTC is a group that brings together civil society and governments around the world to stem illicit financial flows that are costing developing countries nearly a trillion dollars each year.

Its survey analysed data from Kenya, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

The Kenyan aspect of the survey included measures to cushion households and corporates from the impact of the pandemic, which made Kenya’s corporate tax rate the lowest in East Africa, fuelling tax competition.

The survey found that 63 per cent of Covid-19 relief funds went, on average, to big businesses in eight of the nine surveyed countries, while only a quarter of the funds went to social protection, all in lack of transparency and accountability.