Small and Medium Enterprises and local startups can now access business training programmes after the World Bank and the Kenya government facilitated formalisation of business development services.
The Association of Startup and SMEs Enablers of Kenya (ASSEK), which launched operations with 40 members has now grown its membership to 150 entrepreneur support organisations (ESOs) now tasked with creating tailor-made business programmes that support sector-specific needs of local businesses.
Speaking in Nairobi during the ASSEK Ecosystem Enablers Forum 2024 that was attended by ESO founders and chief executives, ASSEK Chief Executive Mercy Kimalat said ASSEK is now well-placed to support SMEs and Startups’ growth plans through provision of business training that enables the later to enhance their productivity as well as improve on the quality of their services and products.
“We have transformed SMEs and Startups by matching them with the right coach and mentor to help them grow. This is done by ensuring they have access to international opportunities though the stakeholders that we have partnered with. This has enabled many to sell their services and products regionally and beyond,” she said.
Ms Kimalat said SMEs and startups trained through their programmes would also benefit from seed funding adding that the small businesses will have access to diversified funding tailored to their needs through the ASSEK network who also de-risks them through seed grants and providing technical support.
Assek, she said, was actively involved in formulation of Startup Bill, a framework that creates incentives for local and international investors to catalyse local innovations thereby benefiting local innovators by helping fasttrack development of new products for the market.
“The key objective of ASSEK is to boost job creation and growth. This forum facilitates a collaborative discussion focused on realigning the collective vision for ASSEK, identifying emerging opportunities, and fostering an environment conducive to meaningful networking,” she said.
The establishment of the Association, five years ago, has resulted in increased inclusion in the ecosystem, standardisation of approaches, collaboration in attracting investment opportunities, job creation, value addition to local and international stakeholders enabling the innovation space in Kenya as well as policy-makers, enterprise support organisations (ESO’s), financial supporters and more. Assek is also spearheading the formation of a regulatory body for ESOs which will ensure startups and SMEs receive professional business support and investor-linkages thereby enabling them to scale at a faster rate.
Currently, most small businesses rely on family savings and bank loans with no access to professional business support to help them access standardisation services and product improvement services that would help them gain international market access.