The journey of Barclay’s SME in conversation, an initiative hosted by the bank aimed at helping small and medium-enterprises realize their potential for growth has been nothing but highly inspirational.
The tour began at Meru Slopes Hotel in Meru and over the course of the past several months, it was rolled out across other regions including Eldoret, Nakuru, Mombasa, and Nairobi. The sessions featured mentorship and coaching from industry experts, training workshops, and networking opportunities for business owners from various sectors of the economy.
Aiming at reaching 9,000 SMEs and more, the program saw hundreds of individuals attend the events each with a burning question on how to better their business growth.
The most recent of the SME in Conversation tour which was held in Nairobi at Serena Hotel was attended by various persons from different economic niches in Nairobi County.
In presence were Frida Awinga of Passion Profits, Dr. Kinyanjui Ng’ang’a of Shape Afrika, Kirinya Githinji from World International alongside Phyllis Mwangi and Nemaisa Kiereini from International Trade Center and the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce, respectively. There were also other partners of Barclays bank who are committed to ensuring that the SME sector in the country gets the proper support they deserve.
Various topics since the inception of the tour have been discussed but what mostly dominated the talks was the challenges facing SMEs, which includes financial stability, the source of funding, security, and how to best take care of the employees’ welfare.
Some of the business owners wanted to know why they were not growing when they feel they have done enough while others wanted to best utilize Barclay’s funding to scale up their operations.
John Ndichu from Barclays Asset Finance, during the Nairobi session, stressed why SMEs rarely get the financial support they need from lenders. He said that before one considers borrowing money, one should clearly state whether the funds are for consumption or growth.
“Can you articulate your needs? What does your credit profile say about you? Does your business have any future projections and the ability to expand further? If you cannot answer any of these questions, funding might be a little bit hard for you,” Ndichu noted.
He was addressing the most common challenge faced by business, which is lack of inadequate capital access and why lenders shy away from helping them.
Barclays Bank, throughout the events, offered the best advice and unwavering support by stressing on the key issues a business should focus on if they need funding. Far from urging the participants to have a comprehensive knowledge of their business, outline or formulate a conspicuous plan that indicates potential from growth, the lender also convinced them to join their Barclays Business Club to reap all the benefits offered for better operational perspectives.
Through Barclays Business Club, members get to visit other countries outside Africa, like China, for instance, for benchmarking purposes. During the events, both the participants and the hosts agreed that disruptions are happening in every industry, and if SMEs do not adapt to the change, they risk being phased out completely.
Barclays Bank, for years, has stood by SMEs and by allowing the owners to interact through the SME in conversation tour, it shows its commitment of extending the much-needed help even for new individuals who have not the slightest idea how to excel in their business.
Knowledge is priceless, and very good advice is worth treasuring. Coupled with the prospects of success and prosperity in business, every entrepreneur sets outs to seek a solution for his or her biggest challenge. This is what brought investors and business owners to the conversation.
Testimonies from longtime members of Barclays Business Club alongside those who have experienced firsthand the benefits the company offers were enlightenment to the newcomers and those who came to listen.
Nevertheless, every participant, in all the sessions walked home with a smile and with a plan that will see them enhance and expand their business operations. The sessions pointed outgrowth indicators, the best way to handle the business crisis, who to include in business, the best systems and training programs for both the employer and the employee, as well as the best way to access capital to drive growth.
It may seem like the end of the journey, but as Susan Situma, the Head of SME Banking for Barclay’s said in Eldoret, if you are committed to what you are doing, you will always have a viable plan that constitutes growth and profitability. And for as long as this stands, Barclays will always remain the best partner regarding the growth of your business, innovations, and other economic ventures.