Promoting economic growth in Africa is one of the tasks that call for expertise and a lot of industrial collaboration. Realizing this, Invest in Africa, a not-for-profit organization has stepped in attempt to speed these processes.
The initiative aims at promoting collaboration between organizations to drive growth and job creation through SME development. It aims at increasing linkages between large international and domestic companies and smaller local businesses to access skills, markets and finance.
Among Invest in Africa’s partners are Tullow Oil, African Management Initiative, Safaricom, Equity, Nation Media Group, Strathmore Business School, Stanbic Bank, Oracom Web Solutions and others.
Invest in Africa organized a site visit to one of its partner SMEs, MECOL Furniture Ltd. This is a local manufacturer of office, bank, hotel and institutional furniture, library, Storage and supermarket shelving. The purpose was to have its partners network, to understand what MECOL Furniture does and to share opportunities and challenges.
“The Biashara Now Platform offers Kenyan SMEs immense opportunities for learning.
One of the dynamic ways which we have learnt over time is the power of businesses learning from each other within our network.
SMEs in Kenya continue to face a critical situation of a real gap in marketing skills, knowledge, and competency.
Learning and experiencing first-hand what their peers are doing differently not only reinforces other lessons but gives the businesses much needed impetus to connect in a special way and cement collaboration in sharing best Practice.
The Power of Business-to-Business Learning has been live during this visit hosted by Mecol Limited who have hosted us today. “ Terry Kinyua, Chief Operations Officer, Invest in Africa – Kenya.
Here is the list of companies that visited Mecol during the networking program:
- Arete Solutions Ltd
- Sums Decorators ltd
- Afex Kenya Ltd
- Sesimoka Group and Co
- Eclipse Business services
- Mullard fire protection
MECOL Furniture Ltd is located in Commercial Street, Industrial Area. They produce a variety of products made from metal and wood. 90% of the raw materials used are sourced locally while the rest is imported.
On average, everyone uses at least two to three pieces of furniture, whether in the office or at home. The question is, do you know the process through which they are produced? Not many of us do.
The tour at MECOL gave us a chance to see the different stages wood and metal are taken through to arrive at the final product.
The experience was interesting. The process begins with cutting metal and wood into different sizes. Wood is further cut into shape and metal folded depending on the design of the product being made. different pieces are put together to form the product eg chair. This is then painted and baked in an oven so that the paint spreads evenly and sticks on the metal for durability. The product is ready for the consumer.
Some of the challenges that MECOL face include: High Electricity costs, Corruption, Not getting 100% of the raw materials locally and Government not buying furniture from local firms.
We all came together to see how each of the companies could contribute to MECOL’s growth through service delivery and partnerships in order to create more job opportunities.
We as Oracom Group realized MECOL’s online presence was quite low and identified it as an opportunity that MECOL could explore. We introduced how the company can take advantage of various internet tools to be Digitally Fit and to improve their website ranking (S.E.O).
We also introduced our brand, Mybigorder Kenya, an online platform where they can register as vendors, upload their products and get connected to customers across the country.
It was a great opportunity to visit MECOL and to share a platform for networking with other SME’s. We learnt what they do and how they do it and also saw new opportunities to make Kenya a better country.
A key take away from the interaction is that local businesses should promote each other by doing business together. ‘Buy Kenya Sell Kenya’ should be everyone’s motto.
Economic growth will see business across African countries thrive and challenges such as food security will be dealt with once and for all. Invest in Africa continues to impart SME’s with such great opportunities as they seek to see Kenya and Africa at large grow economically.