On Thursday, I got an opportunity to attend a function organized by Barclays Bank of Kenya at Meru Slopes Hotel.
As a Small Medium Enterprise enthusiast, as well as a student, I had been told by a friend that Barclays Bank had embarked on a tour that was aimed at ‘bailing out’ SMEs in my own home county of Meru.
As an aspiring entrepreneur, after the Barclays event, I dare say that the lender came at the perfect time that most SMEs in this county needed them.
At the event, I learned that Barclays was on a mission across seven counties in Kenya starting from Meru before proceeding to Nyeri, Eldoret, Kisii, Kisumu, Nakuru, and finally Mombasa.
According to Barclays Bank, the tour is tailored towards four premises which include:
Challenges SMEs in Meru Face
Stats from KEPSA show that SME contributes up to 45 percent to Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The same SME sector employs 86 percent of Kenyans. But the sector is ailing, facing numerous challenges. Stats up to 2016 indicated that more than 2.2 million SMEs had closed shop. This translated to 400,000 SMEs dying annually with 80 percent of them dying before their second birthday.
SMEs in Meru haven’t been spared by the purge. Thousands of them are dying monthly, leave alone annually. One major challenge in this county, for SMEs, includes inadequate information for SMEs on how to run a successful business as well as financial constraints. Other challenges include inaccessibility to market opportunities and lack of connections to markets and financial opportunities.
For a long time, commercial banks in Meru have refrained from lending to SMEs especially after the implementation of the Interest Capping Law. The launch of Barclays Business Club in 2003 was long overdue. I don’t know why I wasn’t aware of it but the fact that it has landed in Meru, many SMEs are actually going to benefit.