KAM hosts forum to address access to finance for manufacturing SMEs

Kenya Association of Manufacturers hosted the Women and Youth Bankability Forum to address and mitigate financial challenges affecting entrepreneurs in the manufacturing sector.

The half-day Conference, themed Banking on your ideas to grow a sustainable business, provided a platform for manufacturing and aspiring entrepreneurs to directly seek information and guidance from financial institutions on attaining support and assistance.

Speaking at the Forum, Principal Secretary for Youth Affairs, Dr Julius Korir noted that women and youth are the backbone of the society and contribute more than half of the population.

For any society to succeed, these groups must be empowered and uplifted. We must take advantage of their innovation and maximize their potential for the social-economic benefit of the country. We must also be deliberate in nurturing and mentoring them on issues regarding financing and business,’ said PS Korir.

PS Korir further indicated that the government is deliberate in promoting youth empowerment, and will seek to mainstream the participation of youth in the national development industrial agenda.

KAM Women in Manufacturing Chairperson, Ms Flora Mutahi stated that women and youth need to be provided with adequate information, to steer their innovations in the right direction.

Financial institutions want to help women and youth but they do not know how to – because they are not having conversations with them. We need to keep challenging and having conversations with financial institutions so that we understand each other. Investment capital to get into manufacturing could be costly as compared to training and trading,  but for any economy to grow it needs to be driven by manufacturing. Therefore, I encourage all the manufacturing entrepreneurs to keep at it,’ added Ms Mutahi.

The Conference hosted over 50 participants, with representatives from three major financial institutions: ABSA Bank, The Cooperative Bank of Kenya, and Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB). Participants included entrepreneurs, SMEs, and Technical Institutions students and graduates.

Speaking at the forum, Entrepreneur and TVET Graduate Ms Lilian Wanjiku concluded, ‘Many young people do not have access to collateral to act as security for financing, and Banks need to review the loan processing procedures. Banks need to be more creative in their product offerings and make deliberate efforts to educate the youth and women on their products, so they can use them to better their business.’

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