President admits little has been done for SMEs; says it’s embarrassing

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President Uhuru Kenyatta speaking at the SMEs conference
President Uhuru Kenyatta speaking at the SMEs conference

President Uhuru Kenyatta has decried the government’s lack of support for the Small and Medium Enterprises in the country. Speaking at the SMEs conference which attracted representatives from the Small and Medium Enterprises sector and government leaders at Strathmore University, President Kenyatta indicated the government hadn’t done enough to address issues facing SMEs and that more action will be seen. “We haven’t done justice to you according to the needs you have,” he said.

The Head of State decided to keep away his written speech, saying he had to address the real issues and that he is ashamed with the state’s failure when it comes to addressing issues facing SMEs. He said the SMEs are the stronghold of the economy, “These are the people providing employment to over 75% of our workforce.” He lamented the fact that time and time again big businesses have an easier time in the market compared to the SMEs, “We don’t have time for them (SMEs),” he said.

He said the resolutions from the SMEs meeting will be accomplished and within a month another meeting should be organized, “We know how we’ll answer because we owe it to them. These are our taxpayers, yet you hear that someone wakes up in the morning, goes to work, yet his workplace has dirty water all over and leaking sewers. It can’t be possible, that’s not the way to work,” said the President.

He said the issues facing Gikomba market in Nairobi should’ve been dealt with a long time ago if the government had been effective and kept its pledge, “I’ve told CS Macharia here that am ashamed. The business people had volunteered to construct Gikomba market, instead, we told them we’ll construct it for them, now a year has elapsed…there is no justice there,” he said. He outlined that his administration has to deal with the issues of access to markets and how to equip the SMEs to have the right machinery to carry out their work.

He directed Energy CS Charles Keter, who was present to review electricity tariffs for SMEs with the view of easing the cost of doing business, “I direct the Energy Cabinet Secretary to review electricity tariffs within one month and come up with a  sustainable plan to ensure the cost of power to small and medium-sized enterprises is brought down,” he said.