The local manufacturers showcase dubbed Changamka Festival organized by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) Nairobi Edition officially came to a close with a clarion call to Kenyans to continue supporting locally manufactured goods to promote growth in the sector.
The festival which registered great footfall saw shoppers seek products such as clothes, foodstuffs such as maize flour, wheat flour, and legumes, as well as pure honey, shoes, and machinery spare parts among others from Kenyan local manufacturers through the week in a bid to experience and promote quality.
The push for locally manufactured goods to be embraced by millions of Kenya has been one of the major pushes by the government through the Ministry of Trade under the Buy Kenya Build Kenya initiative. The festival was aimed at wading off the analogy that locally manufactured products are expensive and of low quality.
The shopping festival saw high-ranking state officials from both the County Government of Nairobi and the National Government visit KICC to interact with both the local manufacturers and customers, giving prominence to the event and a clear indication of the government’s hand in pushing for the consumption of locally made products.
Dr. Juma Mukhwana, HSC PS – State Department for Industry, during the kick-off of the festival, called on Kenyans to normalize buying from local manufacturers as one of the ways of challenging them and propelling them to international markets.
“There is no doubt that local manufacturing plays a major role in the growth of this country economically. As a government, our focus on promoting sustainable policies to promote local manufacturing is clear. We will continue working with local manufacturing players to create a conducive business environment to increase the contribution to GDP by the manufacturing sector from the current 7.2% to 20% by 2030,” he said.
The Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Co-operatives & Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Simon Chelugui was among the high-ranking government officials who paid a visit to local manufacturers and businesses at the KICC.
“It is our desire and wish as a ministry to support these upcoming corporates, who are SMEs and the backbone of our economy. Many of them are adding value to many of our produce and it helps the economy down the value chain. Giving support through initiatives such as the Changamka Shopping Festival allows them to showcase what they have to offer to their customers,” said the CS.
The CSs visit came at a time when a conversation was ongoing on the worrying trend of small businesses shutting down en masse due to unfriendly taxes, the high cost of doing business, and the ever-reducing purchasing power of Kenyans. Stats from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) showed that five years to 2016, at least 2.2 million SMEs had shut down, translating to 450,000 annually, 30,000 monthly, and 1,000 daily.
CS Chelugui attributed the massive shutdown of SMEs to the absence of policies that are tailored towards protecting SMEs and giving them a lifeline in terms of timely payments when they supply their goods and services.
The CS said the Ministry was working towards setting up a policy that will see suppliers from the SME sector paid promptly to shield them from collapsing due to delayed payment. He added that many small businesses are struggling to remain afloat due to delayed payment and promised that his ministry will ensure that this is changed.
Micro, and Small Enterprise Authority Chairman, Mr. James Mureu also highlighted the event and praised the government for initiatives such as the Hustler Fund for small businesses saying it has played a role in keeping thousands of them in business. “The SMEs in Kenya should remove the competition from among themselves and look at competing with other players such as the Chinese so that our local products can break even and feature in global markets,” he said.
Mr. Mureu added that the Authority was also working towards ensuring that all small businesses have specific zones with shades arranged according to the sector one has majored in to harmonize the sector and give it more prominence.
As the festival came to an end, the main highlight was the amplification of the fact that local manufacturing is the backbone of Kenya’s economy contributing about 7.8 percent to Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP), as well as employing the highest number of wage earners, with 352,000 people.
It is on that premise that the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) has been at the forefront of pushing for the consumption of locally manufactured goods and breaking the long-standing myth that local products are more expensive as compared to those that are imported. Through initiatives such as the Changamka Festival, KAM hopes to boost production among manufacturers and spur Kenya’s economic growth.
The festival was sponsored by Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL), KCB Group, NCBA Bank, GIZ – support on behalf of the Republic of Finland and the Federal Republic of Germany, Price Kata/Integral Media, Eco Bank, Nairobi City County, Smart Expo and Amonex Enterprises Limited.