The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) an affiliate of the US Chamber of Commerce have today signed an agreement to strengthen the chambers role in advocating for small and growing businesses through county chambers. The agreement is the 2nd phase of the centers of excellence programme will see Mombasa, Embu and Uasin Gishu benefit from the initiative which started in 2016 with Vihiga, Nairobi and Mombasa as the pioneer chapters. Under the initiative the counties the three chapters get technical assistance and market linkages to open opportunities for businesses at the county level to access the American market.

Speaking at the event Chamber President Richard Ngatia said the Chamber is focused on enabling lay the foundation for small and medium enterprises to grow and innovate into engines of economic growth and development.

“For Mombasa, Uasin Gishu and Embu chapters there is the need to ensure there is proper governance, has information that is relevant to business and trade to members and fosters trade, industry and commerce,” he said.

He added that the chamber is happy with efforts to increase credit to micro, small and medium enterprises and particularly with the launch of the Kes. 10 billion stawi product that allows lending via mobile phones to SMEs. Access to credit was among the four advocacy pillars by the chamber in 2018 besides delayed payments another issue the chamber has gained ground over the past year.

“We are happy that banks have opened a new leaf that de-risks businesses that were in the past considered uncertain and we hope the new cash injection will reduce the large number of businesses that collapse each year. As the chamber, we will continue to formalize our members to ensure they keep good books enabling them to access credit even through the formal banking channel.

Speaking at the same event CIPE Africa Program Manager Ryan Musser said the organization will continue to work with the chamber to strengthen its say as the voice of the private sector in Kenya. He added that the programme was aimed at creating vibrant chambers at the county level as only stronger chamber chapters will lead to improved business representation in the counties.

“We will work with the Institute of Public Finance Kenya to help these businesses in educating them when it comes to understanding the budget process at the county level. We will also team up with the chamber train the SME’s on anti-corruption compliance training for them to be able to do businesses ethically,” said Ryan Musser, CIPE Africa Program Manager.

“The purpose of this Grant is to enable the Chambers to carry out the development and implementation of projects in Kenya and build the capacity of the chamber to engage in policy reforms,” he added.