Turning Trans Nzoia into a hotbed of thriving SMEs
As Kenya’s system of devolved government turns 10, counties have increasingly taken the centre stage as the beacons of business activity and economic growth.
Increasingly, counties are positioning themselves and encouraging entrepreneurs, including small- and micro-enterprises (SMEs) to tap the best economic opportunities to create value, give rise to jobs, and help create wealth.
Trans Nzoia County, which is one of Kenya’s breadbaskets has, for instance, channeled efforts into enhancing agricultural output, encouraging investors to embrace value addition on a range of farm produce, while also wooing investors in the tourism segment.
“We have picked Trans Nzoia County as part of our multi-county business support tours in Western Kenya as we seek to enhance the capacity of the county’s SME sector as well as show our support towards the growth and development of existing and emerging players in the Western region’s economy,” said Peter Mutua, Customer Network Director, Absa Bank Kenya.
Mr Mutua was speaking to hundreds of SMEs during a business mentorship workshop hosted by the lender in partnership with the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) in Kitale. Also in attendance was TransNzoia Governor George Natembeya and his deputy Philomenah Bineah-Kapkory.
Absa Bank, which is offering new SME customers loans of up to Kes7 million payable in four years and Kes10 million to existing customers payable in five years, is targeting over 1,000 SMEs in the western belt including Kitale, Kisumu, Bungoma, Kisii and Eldoret business hubs.
“We have made significant strides towards fulfilling our pledge to supporting the SME sector, which is critical for the growth and development of our nation and at the same time learnt some key lessons that will serve us well in the future,” Mr Mutua explained.
With a presence in 38 counties across Kenya, the Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed lender offers LPO financing and invoice discounting up to Kes50 million and unsecured bid bonds up to Kes10 million to help customers improve their operations and run their day-to-day business transactions with ease.
Beyond providing financial offerings, Absa Bank in collaboration with KNCCI have embraced a holistic strategy, coaching SMEs on how to run sustainable businesses, how to seek and manage finance, networking, and the importance of keeping good records of transactions and accounts for their enterprises to remain bankable.
“Through candid conversations, we shall be in a better position as a bank to support high, broad-based, inclusive and sustainable growth of SMEs in partnership with counties,” noted Mr Mutua.
Absa is also courting county governments in North Rift and western Kenya with a keen focus on asset-based financing offerings, enhancing agroprocessing, revenue collections systems, as well as the development of infrastructure.
Mr Mutua said the bank is ready to deploy its expertise to the establishment of agro-processing enterprises in line with Trans Nzoia county priority sectors for economic revival.
Trans Nzoia, which is home to nearly one million people, is a major source of maize, bananas, wheat, coffee, and tea and investors are fast embracing horticulture.
“We have the capacity to deploy financing propositions as well as modern agricultural risk management instruments that ensure profitable and predictable outcomes for players in the agribusiness value chain,” he added.