•Ngatia is seeking a second term at the helm of the business lobby group with elections set for June 6.
•This is after a successful three-year- first term that saw KNCCI secure more than Sh3 billion in funding for different SMEs projects.
Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry will continue fostering the growth of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in the country, the private sector lobby institution has said.
This is in the wake of a renewed global focus on SMEs, which according to the World Bank, they play a major role in most economies, particularly in developing countries.
"SMEs account for the majority of businesses worldwide and are important contributors to job creation and global economic development," World Bank notes.
They represent about 90 per cent of businesses and more than 50 per cent of employment worldwide. Formal SMEs contribute up to 40 per cent of national income (GDP) in emerging economies.
In Kenya, SMEs constitute 98 per cent of all businesses, creating about 30 per cent of jobs annually and contributing immensely to the economy.
KNCCI president Richard Ngatia has since affirmed the chamber's commitment to driving growth of the sector, as he seeks a second term at the helm of the key business lobby group.
This is after a successful three-year- first term that saw KNCCI secure more than Sh3 billion in funding for different projects, mainly supporting small businesses where women have been among the biggest beneficiaries.
In an exclusive interview with the Star, the chamber president said that he has managed to break the elite club that controlled the chamber and brought small players to the table.
The chamber's membership has since more than doubled from 20,000 to over 60,000.
“We have been keen on SMEs which remain critical in driving the economy,” Ngatia told the Star on Thursday.
Ngatia is seeking a second term at the helm of the business lobby group with elections set for June 6.
His running mate is businessman Abdulwalli Shariff Ahmed, chairman of Tunasco,which has interests in agriculture, oil and construction.
Current vice president, Eric Rutto, is the only other candidate who has expressed interest in the presidency.
Ngatia is riding on his achievements since 2019.
Among key projects during his tenure is the Sh750 million programme that supports about 12,000 cross-border women traders with an unconditional cash transfer and capital, helping them survive the harsh economic conditions in the post-covid- pandemic era.
This was in partnership with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency(SIDA), Financial Sector Deepening Kenya (FSD Kenya) and Trade Mark Africa.
The chamber also secured support from Trade Mark Africa on Certificate of Origin system upgrade, development of a KNCCI mobile app and a marketplace platform.
It also has in place the Trade mark Women in Trade Platform (iSoko) which targets over 20,000 women traders by next year.
The chamber has also seen in place a Business Advocacy Fund (BAF), Mastercard Foundation funding of Sh534.8 million which benefited over 17 960 members, Sh1.6 billion kitty for supporting SMEs among others.
KNCCI has improved financial stability, enhanced the chamber advocacy role, improved service delivery to members, strengthen chamber chapters and promoted equity in running the chamber affairs.
It has undertaken multiple trade missions to enable members’ access and penetrate overseas markets in countries such as DRC, USA, South Korea, UAE, Egypt, South Africa, France, Germany, Netherlands, Turkey, Russia, Barbados, Saudi Arabia and the UK.
Through the trade missions, the Kenyan business community has secured new export markets for horticulture, fruits and vegetables, beef and honey among others.
KNCCI organises business forums to enable the Kenya business community to meet incoming foreign delegations.
Some of the recent successful missions include the Kenya-Iran, Kenya-Egypt, Kenya-Estonia, Kenya-Malawi, Kenya-Tunisia, Kenya-France, Kenya-India, and Kenya-Tanzania business forums, among others.
KNCCI has also seen a number of MoUs signed with foreign chambers of commerce, helping accelerate trade facilitation and access to market information.
Among MoUs in place include that with South Africa, Dubai and Barbados.
It has also cemented partnerships with GIZ, Etihad Credit Insurance, Ethiopian Airlines, Kabarak University, Uasin Gishu County Government and UNICEF among others .
It launched an overseas office in Sharjah, UAE, to serve as the business facilitation hub for Kenya and UAE traders and provide a platform for business meetings, conferences, exhibitions and networking.
The chamber has an automated trade portal for the issuance of certificate of origin.
The introduction of the online application system during the pandemic has seen an increase in efficiency and transparency in business operation at the chamber, Ngatia notes.
“We have fostered fruitful engagement with industry regulators, including KRA and KEBS to provide regulatory guidance to the exporters,” he said.
In December 2022, Ngatia was appointed to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) World Chambers Federation (WCF) General Council, a strategic move to improve the visibility and advocacy of Kenya’ business sector at the global scene.
“I will collaborate with other members of the General Council in connecting chambers of commerce across the world, support MSMEs in reinforcing trade promotion and enterprise development,” he affirmed.