The micro, small and medium enterprise (MSMEs) sector is an important cog in the country’s economy. The sector not only accounts for majority of the enterprises in the country but is also the key source of employment opportunities for majority of Kenyans.
Despite its importance, the sector has always remained extremely fragmented. This has made it impossible to really differentiate the diverse nature and levels of MSMEs. In fact, due to lack of tangible data, understanding the sector has been nothing short of impossible.
This explains why different organisations that deal with MSMEs are forced to come up with their own definition on what constitute an MSME in line with the sort of engagement they want to pursue. This state of affairs often put the MSMEs at a disadvantage because more often than not they are forced to align themselves with the definition of the organization.
It is for this reason that we feel the need to applaud and commend the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) for undertaking a comprehensive survey on the MSMEs sector in order for the country to understand the status of the sector. The survey, which was released in September, provides comprehensive data, at national and county levels, on the characteristics, operations, dynamics and evolving nature of MSMEs in Kenya.
Some of the critical things the survey has done is to avail tangible data on MSMEs on issues like clear definition of MSMEs, number of jobs the sector creates, ownership, contribution to the economy, financing, innovation, challenges, rate of mortality among others. In a nutshell, the survey is a one-stop-shop for credible information regarding MSMEs.
Going by the importance of the MSMEs sector, it was quite a prudent decision by KNBS to carry out the survey and come up with the report. The benefits are enormous because the government now has reliable data on the state of the sector which will act as a guide when it comes to policy formulation on issues affecting MSMEs.
More importantly, other stakeholders like large corporations that do business with MSMEs, commercial banks and other lenders, non-governmental organization, foreign companies and even donors will now have information that is credible on the sector and which will help them make informed decisions while engaging with MSMEs.
The report is particularly important for commercial banks and other lenders like microfinance institutions that are critical partners of MSMEs in their growth journey. There is no denying that access to finance is one of the major challenges facing the sector. Thus, with tangible data lenders will be in a position to make informed decisions on different levels of MSMEs and know how to help them grow.
It is our hope that all stakeholders will utilise the finds of the survey in order to push the growth of the MSMEs sector and ensure it remains an important pillar of the economy.
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