African Entrepreneurship

Invest in Africa push for increased business on the APP platform

According to Sigwart, one out of every three SMEs in Kenya has an account with Equity Bank.

Invest in Africa has challenged local businesses in Kenya to capitalize on its African Partner Pool Platform (APP), to bridge the gap between buyers and suppliers.

The APP is an online cross-sector business platform that promotes Kenyan SMEs, gives them access to tenders and finance, whilst helping multinationals and big local buyers find quality suppliers.

On Thursday, IIA hosted potential buyers at a forum in Nairobi, who committed to join the APP platform so as to provide tender opportunities for SMEs subscribed on the platform.

Dubbed ‘Role of supply chain in promoting growth of local enterprise’, the forum was used to introduce current and potential buyers to Invest In Africa and demonstrate the APP.

IIA is a growing group of companies working together to address the cross-sector challenges of doing business in Africa and promoting sustainable investment into the continent.

These challenges include access and visibility of credible local suppliers and partners, free trade and movement of goods through ports and access to permits, licenses and talent.

The APP platform was launched on April 6, 2017 to provide SMEs with linkage to big businesses for tenders, marketing and skills opportunities.

 It is a cutting-edge procurement platform allowing end-to-end seamless management of procurement process.

 So far, the platform has over 730 registered SMEs in Kenya, latest IIA data indicate.

Speaking at the event, IIA country director Patricia Ithau said the entity plans to train over 700 Kenyan SMEs in the next three years, through its capacity building program.

“IIA’s vision is to create thriving African economies by directly linking buyers’ who consist of multinationals and large local corporations with suppliers, small and medium sized enterprises. The APP platform delivers connections in a transparent and efficient manner,” Ithau said.

The Nairobi event attracted over 50 cross-sector buyers consisting of corporate executives and IIA partners.

It provided an opportunity for local buyers to sign up and also provide commercial opportunities in the form of tenders and Expressions of Interests (EOIs) on the APP for SMEs to access and apply.

In his key note address, Equity bank’s head of SME Philip Sigwart said: “Equity Bank partners with Invest In Africa to help SMEs scale up through the African Partner Pool platform. At the heart of Equity bank’s operations is the focus on SMEs.”

According to Sigwart, one out of every three SMEs in Kenya has an account with Equity Bank.

“We provide invoice discounting and other financial support services to the African Partner Pool users. At the moment, Equity Bank has 650 billion in outstanding loans from local SMEs,” he said.

Sigwart said the bank also remains committed in supporting IIA’s platform to champion transparency in business, where IIA has over 700 pre-screened SMEs in the APP platform.

Kenya Institute of Supplies Management (KISM) CEO Hedwig Nyalwal urged companies to partner with their suppliers to achieve growth and development.

“This means enhancing sustainability in the supplier chain to organizations is important when dealing with SMEs in order for them to meet needs,” Nyalwal said.

The APP manager Stanley Chege, who took the participants through the platform,  said: “We have linked our platform to make it an end to end procurement process that provides a pool of validated suppliers. This reduces the time taken in getting quality suppliers.”

 Once registered, the buyer accesses a dashboard that has all supplier information based on industry. The platform is also customisable for easy to navigate.

“This allows the buyer to insert different categories in the different departmental needs. This is a world-class procurement system that captures all the other capabilities in other procurement platforms,” Chege said.

The buyer breakfast business forum was held at The Capital Club EA, Westlands.

By Martin Mwita

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