Case Study 1 Francis Kimani Kibogi feeds his hens on his farm near Gilgil, Kenya, on the 16th March, 2009. Francis is part of the Self Help Development Initiative that is supported by AusAid that teaches farmers how to make their land more productive through protecting their environment and providing sutainable solutions to combatting environmental problems.

Kenya is seeing a lot of potential in small scale enterprises as a major economic driver.

This was revealed at the recent small and medium enterprises expo hosted by the National Media Group two weeks.

The forum highlighted not only the challenges that the SMEs face, but also the opportunities that are available for them.

However, it is apparent that overall the SMEs challenges far outweigh the opportunities. This calls for concerted and coordinated effort by all those responsible with coming up with solutions that will ensure that this crucial engine of economic growth is afforded a conducive environment to thrive.

Numerous setbacks were pointed out at the expo, hosted by NMG in partnership with the Kenya National Chamber of commerce and Industry (KNCCI). The prominent of these challenges are the lack of credit access and the inefficacy of agencies mandated to unlock the potential of SMEs.

But these are hardly the only hurdles standing in the way of a vibrant SMEs sector and an entrepreneurial culture. Other major setbacks include market access both local and internationally, unpredictable regulatory and business environment, multiple charges and levies by industry regulators and counties, competition from uncontrolled imports, influx of counterfeits and lack of subsidies to support SME exporters and access to technology.

It is time the sector was accorded the attention it deserves. It is ironic that SMEs have been neglected yet they are easily the strongest pillar of the economy going by statistics that indicate the segment creates jobs for more than 80 percent of the working population, and is responsible for 33.8 percent of the economic growth, according to data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.