The end of the year is always a time to reflect on the year that was and set plans for the coming year. In most cases, it is a time to look back on events that shaped and defined the year and also reflect on the achievements and failures. It is also a time to lay down the priorities for the coming year.
In the business world, 2016 was in many ways a bad year. Forget the declaration by the government about how the Kenyan economy maintained a steady growth of 6.1 per cent. If anything, the growth was nothing but superficial if the realities that defined the business environment were anything to go by.
From large companies, to medium enterprises down to micro businesses, the tagline in 2016 has been of struggle to maintain profitability and struggle to remain afloat. For big companies, restructuring, downsizing and relocating to other countries was the order of the year. In the process, at least 10,000 Kenyans working for big companies lost their jobs.
In the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMES), the situation was even worse. Delayed payments (the government being the worst culprit), lack of financing and competition caused the death of many MSMEs. According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the high mortality of MSMEs played out in a big way. In the process, more Kenyans found themselves jobless.
The job crisis witnessed in 2016 should serve as warning bells for the government. Already Kenya is battling an unemployment problem which stands at 46 per cent. For the country to lose more jobs because companies are feeling the pressure of a tough environment is quite unfortunate. It is for this reason that the government needs to relook at policies to arrest the situation. One area to start with is to ensure the government and its agencies pay suppliers with whom it does business promptly.
With 2016 ending on gloom for the business community, many would have looked into 2017 with optimism. Unfortunately, pessimism is in the minds of many. Being an election year, business leaders have little to cheer about. In fact, many are not even strategising on business revival but are crafting ideas on how to shield their enterprises from the negative effects of the electioneering period, both prior and after.
In 2017, the country is definitely going to be engulfed in the election mood, with anxiety being the new normal for both individuals and companies. As a publication that puts the stability and welfare of Kenya at the heart of our operations, our hope is that despite the divisions and fallouts expected, Kenya will emerge from the 2017 elections standing tall and the echoes of our national anthem ‘May we dwell in unity, peace and liberty’, will be ringing in every Kenyan’s mind.
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