The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) has launched the Kenya Quality Award (KQA), an initiative aimed at promoting a quality culture amongst Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Kenya.

The initiative is designed to recognize MSMEs committed to produce quality product and which already have a valid Standardization Mark of Quality (SMark). The KQA programme will additionally assist MSMEs to initiate, develop and implement quality management systems to a status of certification.

Speaking during the KQA launch ceremony, Lt. Col. (Rtd). Bernard Njiraini, Ag. Managing Director, Kenya Bureau of Standards said, “We recognize both the opportunity and the profound responsibility that is ours to build capacities for MSMEs to develop formal quality models that will help them mature to effective sustainable quality management systems. Already, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) has disseminated information on the Kenya Quality Award to various stakeholders. We expect more MSMEs to participate in the Kenya Quality Award because the resulting benefits will keep them in good standing as we look to export Kenyan products to the larger Africa Continental Free Trade Area.”

Some of the MSMEs that were recognised for being KQA pioneer participants during the launch ceremony include Lake Victoria Mineral Water Ltd., Kabianga Tea Factory Limited, Lovely Home Products, Rahma Ice, Krystalline Salt Ltd. SureWays Enterprises, Countryside Dairy Ltd., Mutole Enterprises, Amani Jipange, Mega Hygiene Systems Ltd., Mojo Marketing and Public Relations Company Ltd., Hiana Products Enterprise and Akimaa Africa Limited.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) 2016 National MSME survey data, MSMEs are estimated to contribute 28.5% of the total economy in Kenya. However, majority of Kenya’s MSMEs do not last beyond 5 years. In this respect, the KQA programme aims to assist MSMEs to remain viable, sustainable and in as far as is possible grow to large enterprises.

Speaking during the same event, Hon. Peter Munya, MGH, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives reiterated the government’s commitment, in equipping MSMEs with the critical knowledge and skills in relation to the quality of their products and the effectiveness of their processes to ensure that they can access the wider market.

“I laud the commitment of the Kenya Bureau of Standards towards entrenching a quality culture in Kenya. With a consolidated and multi-sectorial approach, the government is committed to support this key sector as it recognizes the key role it plays in contributing to the economy and creating employment,” said Hon. Munya.

It is estimated that MSMEs contribute the largest share of the country’s GDP. MSMEs are estimated to contribute 28.5% of the total economy in Kenya. According KNBS data, there are about 1.56 million licensed MSMEs and 5.85 million unlicensed businesses in Kenya. 92.2% of these establishments are Micro while Small and Medium enterprises account for 7.1% and 0.79% respectively.

The KQA pioneer participants were evaluated rigorously by independent judges using the Kenya Quality Award Criteria for Excellence, which measures an organization in five key areas including Process Management, Resources Management, Leadership, Customer and Market Focus, Society and Environmental Standards.

The launch of the Kenya Quality Award comes after the Ministry for Industry, Trade and Cooperatives launched the Industrialization Roadmap during the Second Intra-Commonwealth SME Trade Summit that was held in May 2019 here in Nairobi. The Industrialization Roadmap articulates the government’s priorities including improving the ease of doing business; supporting sectors for growth, skills, infrastructure and finance; unlocking the potential of MSMEs and developing a compelling Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) attraction plan.

KEBS recently launched a countrywide inter-agency initiative targeting stakeholders in the Jua Kali sector to unlock barriers hindering their growth.