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In a dynamic shift from the VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) world of the past 30 years, we find ourselves in a new reality—the BANI world. Characterized by Brittle, Anxious, Nonlinear, and Incomprehensible attributes, this shift brings forth a new set of challenges and opportunities for businesses, especially for Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs).

In the recent ABSA Bank’s Annual Business Club Forum Forum themed ‘Opportunities for businesses to thrive in a Brittle, Anxious, Nonlinear, and Incomprehensible (BANI) world,’ Micro and Small Enterprises Authority Director General Mr. Henry Rithaa, representing Hon. Simon Chelugui, the Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Cooperatives and MSME Development as the Chief Guest Speaker, shed light on navigating this intricate terrain. The forum delved into the transformative nature of the BANI world, where factors like climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and record inflation are reshaping organizational resilience. Amidst these changes, organizations face stress, disorientation, and disruptions in their work processes.

Mr. Henry Rithaa, MSEA CEO/DG, representing Hon. Simon Chelugui, the Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Cooperatives and MSME Development, as the Chief Guest Speaker during ABSA bank’s Annual Business Club Forum

Mr. Henry Rithaa highlighted the Authority’s mandate noting that MSEA is actively promoting the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA). He commended Absa Bank for its four-pronged approach towards supporting the MSME ecosystem, particularly in addressing the daily challenges faced by MSMEs, with access to finance, access to markets, information, mentorship, and coaching and urged the team to explore market linkages, promote subcontracting, and provide capacity-building opportunities for MSEs. Emphasizing the MSME sector’s pivotal role in a complex ecosystem, Mr. Rithaa highlighted the potential for simplification through public-private partnerships and outsourcing opportunities.

In a speech read on his behalf by Mr. Henry Rithaa, CS Chelugui emphasized the five key priority sectors of the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA), including Agriculture, MSME Economy, Housing, Healthcare, and the Digital Superhighway that are poised to deliver inclusive growth. He particularly focused on the MSME Economy pillar, highlighting the growth opportunities envisioned in this sector.

The CS further stated that the Ministry has identified production clusters to mobilize and aggregate cooperatives and MSMEs around priority value chains. “The priority value chains we are focusing on include leather, cotton, dairy, edible oils, tea, rice, the blue economy, minerals, forestry, as well as building materials. We believe these sectors have the potential to create the largest impact and linkages to the economy as well as on household welfare through job creation,” said CS Chelugui.

Furthermore, the Ministry is actively engaged in initiatives to enhance market access, aiming to uplift the income and livelihoods of cooperatives and MSMEs. The government’s ambitious plans include the establishment of MSME business development centers in every ward, industrial parks, and incubation centers at every TVET institution.

CS Chelugui encouraged Absa Bank’s leadership to uphold the spirit of ‘Africanacity,’ symbolizing the determination of Africans to discover innovative solutions. He urged them to foster innovation and actively participate in strategic collaborations and partnerships to elevate the enterprise to new heights.

Absa MD Abdi Mohamed, Mr. Henry Rithaa MSEA CEO/DG and other partners and stakeholders during the consultative forum.

MSEA Director General Mr. Henry Rithaa concluded by emphasizing that the Authority’s strategy for the present and the next five years is private sector-led and oriented. He further encouraged partnerships and collaboration with sector players.

Speaking at the same forum, Absa Bank Kenya MD and CEO Abdi Mohamed said the firm will continue to play a key role in the growth of MSMEs. “We particularly recognize the need to avail sustainable finance solutions and expertise to cushion these businesses in times of unexpected downturns. Absa Bank Kenya has pledged Sh100 billion in a bid to foster the growth of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) across various value chains for the next three years. This complements the government efforts in enhancing the resilience of MSMEs by boosting access to working capital to spur economic development in Kenya,” said Mr. Abdi Mohamed

Absa Business Banking Director, Elizabeth Wasunna, Mr. Henry Rithaa MSEA CEO/DG receiving an appreciation gift.

To maximize opportunities in the BANI concept, Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) in Kenya and worldwide should embrace the following principles:

B: Brittle – Starting a business is akin to caring for an infant; it’s a fragile process requiring patience, encouragement, care, and nurturing. MSEs should recognize that if not well taken care of, their ventures can easily break.

A: Anxious – We currently live in the era of information overload. MSEs need to be razor-sharp in their approach. Before conducting extensive research, they should perform a “ME search” to identify anxieties present in their business situations.This includes assessing their overall wellness, encompassing social, psychological, physical, and emotional well-being.

N: Nonlinear – MSEs should recognize that business dynamics are often nonlinear, meaning that traditional theories don’t always align with real-world situations. MSEs should regularly evaluate the impact of your business activities on your target audience. Embrace all situations and understand that success is largely influenced by psychology (80%) and skills (20%).

I: Incomprehensible – To navigate incomprehensible situations, MSEs should manage emotions, align their businesses with strong value systems, incorporate emotional intelligence into their strategies, and leverage technology wisely as a valuable tool to shape your business, tapping into its vast possibilities while protecting your interests. Remember, it’s essential to keep trying, and if you fail, do so with the intent to learn and improve.

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