“One of the biggest challenge for SMEs is access to finances. We want to address this.

There is unfair competition from counterfeit products, tax avoidance, illicit imports, dumping and extra taxes on imported raw materials which have reduced competitiveness, the association said in Nairobi yesterday, during the launch of its 2017-21 five-year strategic plan.

“We want standards to be put in place to protect the local market from cheap imports,” Mwaura said during the event presided over by Industry, Trade and Cooperatives Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed.

The KFMA strategy has proposed interventions to support the development of leather and MSMEs.

They include the launch of a leather cluster in Machakos and two other locations, development of local content requirements to support the local manufacturers and supporting 50 SME’s annually in key sectors with credit, training and networking assistance.

KFMA also wants strengthening of the subcontracting policy to improve links between large and small players. It has also called for investment in industrial skills by enhancing the capacity of institutions and partners, and encouraging the youth to sign up for technical courses. “We also need to sensitise Kenyans to buy Kenya,” Mwaura said.

The CS said the government will set up a revolving fund to support SMEs in the sector. He said the ministry is in the final stages of negotiating for a $300,000 (Sh30.9 million) kitty with the PTA Bank, and an additional Sh100 million will be set aside by the Kenya Industrial Estates for lending SMEs at “preferential rates”.

“One of the biggest challenge for SMEs is access to finances. We want to address this. We will also create clusters in each of the 47 counties that will support footwear and leather sector in the country,” Mohamed said.

He said the government will create room for small players at the proposed Leather Industrial Park in Machakos. Works at the park has commenced and the first tannery is expected to be operational “in the next 18-24 months,” Mohamed said. He said the planned development of the Leather Industrial Park in Machakos, which has attracted multinationals, will not kill micro and small players.

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