Barclays Bank of Kenya working with SMEs to Address Supply Chain Challenges

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Kenyan businesses that are embracing the demands of today’s customers by utilizing supply chain visibility to identify, capture, share and predict events and transactions have leveraged their growth models.

“If you don’t understand what your customer is going through then you can’t design solutions for them,” says Nicholas Nik, Country General Manager, IBM East Africa during the Barclays Africa Forum in Nairobi.

“Today, customers have much higher demands, if you don’t have the inventory they are looking for, they’ll find another who does have what they want.  This requires an extremely organized Supply Chain system that allows for more reliable and faster delivery.  It also requires a business to have accurate information on their available inventory.  Often times, supply chain management issues stem from the challenge of balancing customer demands with cost containment.  With accurate real-time reporting on the trends of your business and what you have in stock, you can easily meet your clients’ needs while eliminating excess costs,” according to Frank Castiglia, Director of Marketing and Office Relations.

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Barclays Bank of Kenya emerged the overall winner of the 15th edition of Financial Reporting Award (Fire Award) organised by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK) that seeks to promote integrated reporting through enhancing accountability, transparency and integrity in compliance with appropriate financial reporting framework and other disclosures on governance, social and environmental reporting by private and public sectors domiciles in East Africa.

The award proved that the bank continues to embrace good corporate governance. In May, Barclays was ranked first on gender diversity with an even gender distribution with 50 per cent. But seventh in the CGI – Comprehensive Score Ranking by the Cytonn Corporate Governance Index (CGI) ranked the 50 listed companies on the Nairobi Securities Exchange, with a market capitalization of over Kshs. 1 bn, on 24 corporate governance metrics.

Barclays has recognised that, “For the majority of consumers, ‘value’ is not simply a question of price: quality, provenance and brand identity are important factors influencing purchasing decisions.”

Barclays Kenya is currently implementing initiatives to educate entrepreneurs and the Small Medium Enterprises on how they can understand their customer’s, their business and working capital cycle, from procurement to getting paid by the end user.

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“Supply Chain Financing is a critical component of Development Economics that Banks need to pay attention to,” says Ali Hussein Kassim, a Kenyan online entrepreneur.

“Africa has a lot of potential. But it remains only as potential if we do nothing. The supply chain has possibilities,” according to Vimal Shah, CEO of Bidco Africa Group.

Some of the initiatives Barclays Kenya is venturing into to assess and manage financial implications of the supply chain include: working with Kenyan Agronomist who now have a clear understanding of the farmer’s special needs through its Agribusiness Unit.

The bank through its ReadytoWork Program provides learning material that help young people develop work skills, people skills, money skills and entrepreneurial skills.

Another key area the bank is helping SMEs is through virtual accounts.

“Banks are now moving towards more online banking offerings, which mean that SME owners never need to go to a branch, and can save valuable time and money by being able to bank online from their smartphones or computers,” says Susan Situma is the Head of SME Banking at Barclays Bank of Kenya.

According to Situma, the bank’s Wezesha Biashara, has had an impact to over 6000 businesses with seminars and training sessions to enable them to improve the way they structure and run their businesses.

The bank also rolled out the SheTradesKe initiative targeting 10,000 women owned businesses in the SME sector by the year 2020 with e-learning courses, trade workshops and exhibitions to connect business owners with international markets.

In Kenya, women-owned businesses account for over 48% of all SMEs, contributing about 20% of the Kenyan gross domestic product (GDP).

These initiatives from Barclays are aimed at addressing the impact on supply. As a result, Companies that take proactive steps to address the challenges will be in a much better position to capitalize on their supply chain’s ability to serve existing customers better, operate more efficiently, penetrate new markets and, overall, grow more profitably.

Related: Optimism Among Kenyan Manufacturers High

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David Indeje

David Indeje is a writer and editor, with interests on how technology is changing journalism, government and society. He has been practicing Journalism since 2008. Environment, Agriculture Business, Health and Gender Development stories are his passion.David can be reached on: (020) 528 0222 or Email: [email protected]