A graphic representation of the acronym, SMEs which stands for Small and Medium Enterprises. Bizna Kenya awards tp offer businesses platforms to grow and be sustainable by mobilising support to improve their access to capital.

Nominations are on for the inaugural Bizna SME Awards, which seek to honour successful small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Kenya.

The Awards programme offers Kenyans a platform for identification, recognition and celebration of SMEs based on performance, profitability, quality of products and customer relations. It is an initiative of Bizna Kenya, a leading marketing and business support provider for small businesses in Kenya.

Commenting on the Awards, whose nominations process ends on March 31, 2019 Bizna Kenya Founder and CEO, Tonnie Mello, said: “The SMEs sector has been prioritized in several economic blue prints and Jubilee government’s Big Four Agenda as a key driver for achievement of development and through the Awards we have created a platform for recognizing and celebrating their contribution to the economy.”

Businesses can participate in the process by nominating themselves or being recommended by others through the Awards online portal, https://smeawards.co.ke/nomination/. Winners will be announced at a gala event scheduled for May 24, 2019 in Nairobi.

Through the Awards, Bizna Kenya is providing avenues for recognizing efforts by SMEs towards economic growth, development and empowerment.

It will also offer the businesses platforms to grow and be sustainable by mobilizing support to improve their access to capital.

The major challenge facing SMEs in Kenya is access to capital. The sector has for long relied on commercial banks for finance but the enactment of the interest capping law has made it very difficult for small businesses to access credit as the banks consider them risky.

According to latest statistics from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), there is a $331 billion new funding demand for SMEs in Sub Saharan Africa.

In sub-Saharan Africa, there are at least 44 million formal Micro and Small and Medium Enterprises SMEs, 51 per cent of which require more finance than they can access to grow their businesses.

“The Awards programme will not only celebrate the success of SMEs but also champion changes in government regulations that otherwise, cripple businesses,” said Mello.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics estimates that small businesses employ approximately 14.9 million Kenyans with the unlicensed enterprises contributing 57.8 per cent.

A survey conducted by the bureau in 2016 to understand the status of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector revealed the sector accounted for 81.1% of employment opportunities in the country. The highest proportion of employment in licensed MSMEs was recorded in Nairobi, which accounted for 27.8 per cent.

MSMEs are categorised into micro (1-9 employees), small (10-49 employees) and medium (50-99 employees).

The Bizna SMEs Awards has 20 categories including boda boda, salon and spa, transport and logistics, digital and social media, real estate, manufacturing, sports, professional service providers, real estate and insurance.

Others are retails stores, media, fashion, club and entertainment spots, schools, colleges and universities, creative economy, agribusiness, matatu saccos, hotel and hospitality,  and financial partner.

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Bizna Kenya also runs the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, which identify and honours upcoming and industrious entrepreneurs below 35 years old. The second edition of the Awards aimed at creating a network of outstanding young entrepreneurs and encourage more to start their own businesses will be launched in June.

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