Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI) has been named as the technical advisor in a $50 million World Bank project. The project is seeking to finetune the product of 90 SMEs for the mass market.

KIRDI will improve the innovation, productivity and competitiveness ability of the participating SMEs by strengthening their managerial and technical capabilities.  This will enable them to better compete for local and international market opportunities.

At KIRDI, the youth, women and persons with disability-led SMEs identified under the Kenya Industry and Entrepreneurship Project (KIEP) will have their existing manufacturing gaps addressed through research, product development and improvement. The SMEs will also benefit from KIRDI’s Business Incubation and Common Manufacturing Facilities with key emphasis on gender mainstreaming in all the project activities.

Dr Juma Mukhwana, Principal Secretary, State Department of Industry In the Ministry of Investments, Trade And Industry (MITI) welcomed the partnership saying the government encourages entrepreneurs to focus on value addition, especially for products destined for the export market. “ We are now in the fifth industrial revolution with Artificial Intelligence (AI) as the main driving force. This is changing how we do everything including manufacturing. This is why we should expand our innovation capabilities. The good news is that Kenyans are very innovative but the not so good news is that most of the innovations by Kenyans never get to the markets. That’s why we must work together to support innovators to commercialise their innovations and grow their micro and small enterprises to large enterprises.”

KIRDI Board of Directors Chairperson Dr. Dinah Mwinzi, CBS said bringing SMEs together via the KIEP project enabled KIRDI to offer its expertise to already existing and established businesses in line with the Government Agenda of Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA). BETA identifies and promotes entrepreneurship as a key driver to job creation hence enabling more Kenyans to participate in the economic development irrespective of their social status.

KIEP, being implemented by MITI, with support from the World Bank Group is a five year initiative that aims to increase innovation and productivity in the private sector firms in Kenya and is fully aligned with Government Agenda of increasing the manufacturing sector’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), creating more jobs, attracting more investments and enhancing export market opportunities.

The direct beneficiaries are formal private sector firms in Kenya (startups, SMEs,), including intermediaries (incubators, accelerators, bootcamp and technology skills providers).