Mentors jostle for space in Kenya’s challenging SME sector


As Kenya’s SME sector grows through a tough economic time, mentors are increasingly targeting the sector to offer guidance to small businesses.

The latest entrant is Wylde International which has invested Sh50 million in a one-stop-shop entrepreneurs centre in Nairobi dubbed SNDBX.

SNDBX gives entrepreneurs and SMEs timely and personalised access to round the clock business growth experts to help face challenges they are experiencing.

The centre is an all-access pass to more than 20 experts including finance, human resources, tax, legal, branding, marketing, debt collection, innovation, governance and risk management among others.

Speaking during the launch, Wylde International Chief Executive Joram Mwinamo, said the move was necessitated by the need in the market to help entrepreneurs scale up.

“An environment where ambitious entrepreneurs have a supporting cast of seasoned professionals. The SNDBX is a First of its kind in the world, developed over 10 years of working with entrepreneurs, it’s designed to ensure sustainable models for business support through a proven methodology localise for the African ecosystem,” Mwinamo added.

The move comes even as SMEs in the country struggle to get past the five-year mark.

Latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicate that about 400,000 SMEs close shop annually in the country with 46 per cent of them dying in the first year of establishment.

Those who close attribute it to making losses, poor investment choices and market saturation.

“SNDBX will be the engine for entrepreneur growth, we plan to launch other centres in other cities in the country and replicate it regionally,” he added.

Kenya’s SME sector constitutes 98 per cent of the businesses in Kenya and provides 30 per cent of annual employment.

Business mentors in Kenya

Sinapis has been conducting training for SMEs where they connect entrepreneurs with a global support network to help them grow to the next level and transform the world around them.

The organisation targets small and growing businesses (SGBs) typically with 5 to 250 employees.

“These companies fuel the economy and account for 67-80 per cent of new job growth. Their success goes far beyond the entrepreneur and brings employment and dignity to their community,” notes Sinapis.

With its training programme now in its 9th year, Sinapis organises four-month advanced entrepreneurial training, specifically designed for entrepreneurs in Kenya.

Other mentorship institutions in Kenya include Uwezo Fund which is a flagship programme of Kenya’s Vision 2030. The fund targets women, youth, and persons with disabilities to equip them with capacity building programmes information.

It also primes youth and persons with disability to access finances to grow their businesses.

The Professional Business Mentorship Association of Kenya is a stakeholder organisation providing financial advice to small businesses. The body runs its mentorship programmes through Kenyan universities as a course.

Professional business mentors facilitate and provide supporter to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

Inorero University offers business training under business and mentoring dimensions supported by the Danish embassy in Nairobi.

The programme mentors young entrepreneurs at a fee for six to 12 months.

Launched in 2010, the Centre for Education Innovations empowers the youth through entrepreneurship, vacation and emotional skills training.

To create self-employment, Riziki Kenya mentors and sponsors youth for vocational training.

Established in 2005, Riziki targets youths from the informal settlements offering mentorship programmes through churches and community groups.

Read: Have governments stolen Africa’s future from the youth?

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