The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) has today held the Annual Supplier Diversity Summit that brought together key stakeholders from across Kenya to discuss how inclusive supply chains can be encouraged and developed during and post Covid–19 pandemic.
The one-day summit was held to discuss and understand how the Coronavirus pandemic has especially affected women and youth- led and owned businesses. A study conducted by KEPSA in May this year to assess the impact of Covid-19 found that 82% of women-owned/led businesses were highly affected by Covid-19 pandemic negatively. Only 2% reported positive impact and 1% were not affected.
Speaking at the conference, KEPSA chairman Mr. Nicholas Nesbitt, urged stakeholders to accelerate the development of action plans targeting supplier diversity and noted that the SME sector has the highest potential of creating these opportunities.
The summit focused on activating greater supplier diversification in driving inclusive business and ensuring that women, youth and PWD-owned enterprises are accessing procurement opportunities at all levels.
The keynote speaker, Ms. Faith Kasiva, Gender Secretary, Ministry of Public Service & Gender challenged the stakeholders present to lead efforts towards enhancing supplier diversity in order to boost economic recovery during & post COVID -19 pandemic.
According to Kasiva, Supplier Diversity can be adopted as a strategy to address youth unemployment in Kenya. As part of a campaign to empower women, youth and persons with disability, the Kenyan government pledged that the procurement rules would be amended to allow 30 per cent of Government contracts to be awarded to women, youth and persons with disability, under reservation and without competition from established firms.
The action, aimed at empowering women, youth and persons living with disability-owned enterprises by giving them more opportunities to do business with the Government and by extension creating market linkages and economic prosperity.
Whereas the public sector has embraced Supplier Diversity, few organizations in the private and development sectors have taken the step to set aside their procurement budgets and opportunities expressly for youth, women and people with disabilities.
In response to the pandemic, KEPSA has also entered into a partnership with Mastercard Foundation to launch a Fund to support MSMEs hit by the pandemic through financial and technical assistance.
The programme targets to give 400 MSMEs interest-free loans repayable by up to six months with priority being businesses owned by women and young people. In addition to funding, KEPSA is conducting capacity building (Training and mentorship sessions).