Kenya has stepped up the private sector’s role in the economic development, in particular, to facilitate domestic and foreign investments in the industrial sector to boost local production and develop business environment in the country by putting in place legislative framework, laws and procedures.
For instance, the World Bank’s ease of Doing Business Report ranked Kenya at position 80 this year, moving 12 places up from 2016 attributed to among other business reforms, payment of taxes and trading across borders.
One case in point is the manufacturing sector which is seen to play a crucial role in Kenya’s inclusive growth by absorbing large numbers of workers, including by creating many jobs indirectly through forward and backward linkages to agriculture, raising exports and transforming the economy through technological innovation.
The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) says the current annual GDP growth rate of 5.7 percent, Kenya should double its manufacturing output to reach the government’s target of 15 percent of GDP in five years.
“As Kenya moves towards implementation of the Medium-Term Plan (MTP) III that covers the period 2018 to 2022, the country must develop a new approach to manufacturing development, which will involve reforms to existing policies in order to align them more closely to the objectives as set out in Vision 2030 as well as Kenya’s Industrial Transformation Programme (KITP),” noted KAM when it unveiled its 10-point policy agenda to revamp the manufacturing sector in order to create 300,000 jobs as well as to increase the share of the manufacturing sector in GDP to 15 percent by 2022.
However, losses from the prolonged electioneering period in Kenya has hit most businesses in the country.
The National Treasury estimated the losses at 1 percent of Gross Domestic Product this is between KSh 120 billion and KSh 130 billion.
However, calls for an economic boycott by the opposition risks the country’s growth which has been revised to 5 percent and 5.1 percent for the remainder of the year in view of the prevailing economic conditions.
Moreover, calls to boycott on a number of companies in Kenya is a glaring testimony of the failure of the rule of law and principles of good governance enshrined in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 in the sector which is one of the economic pillars of the region.
Ms. Carole Kariuki, CEO of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) notes that Kenya is now a viable investment destination attributed to a number of reforms.
The association has emphasised on national talks to expedite economic revival to spur job creation as well as revive Kenya’s global stature which has been severely damaged.
For companies affected by the calls for boycott, it is prudent for the public to understand contribution they make besides their core business.
For instance, Safaricom, the leading communications company in Kenya with the widest and strongest coverage, exists to fulfill a purpose. “That purpose is to transform lives. We have continued to implement transformative strategies that touch the lives of our shareholders, customers, staff members and other stakeholders,” says Bob Collymore, CEO.
Data from the Financial Sector Deepening Kenya (FSD Kenya) notes M-PESA is estimated to have lifted 194,000 households, or 2 percent of Kenyan households, out of poverty.
To Safaricom, integrating their growth strategy to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will help in “Creating meaningful impact on the commitments that we have been given the opportunity to serve. These are ‘small’ actions that we believe will cumulatively transform the lives of our customers,” says Collymore.
All are founded on three pillars: Putting the customer first, delivering relevant products and optimizing operational excellence.
Another company is Bidco Africa Limited , started 31 years ago, has asserted its position as East and Central Africa’s leading, most advanced edible oil and hygiene products manufacturer and marketer and still growing.
Their purpose is to serve daily consumer needs so as to enhance Happy Healthy Living by transforming, branding and distributing the goodness of mother nature.
Bidco Africa could never have achieved it without the 30,000 registered farmers and the 6,000 strong workforce spread across East Africa.
“Each and every one of these individuals brings a special talent and skill that is nurtured at Bidco Africa, in creating one of the kind products that bring Happy Healthy Living to Africa. The farmers are trained and given technical assistance, while the staff is taught crucial international management practices ensuring that as the company grows they grow with it,” notes Bidco.
Thiagarajan Ramamurthy, group managing director says they have confidence in the Kenyan economy noting that they have been in operation for the last three decades since 1985. “It shows that we make sense of the people,” he said.
“Technology has opened up the market. Our goal is to make sure our products are available to our consumers in their various locations. Our focus is consumer satisfaction through the diverse value chain which is unique to us,” he adds.
These two companies justify that focusing on building a resilient corporate culture is an excellent investment which requires deep thought about relationships with stakeholders and the environment, incentives, strategy, and what behavior gets rewarded organizationally.
For Safaricom, delivery to their vision has been made possible by their network which goes beyond traditional connectivity to provide essential services such as health, education and financial inclusion.
And Bidco Africa they believe there is always a better way, a place where ideas win and people flourish and grow.