The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) established in 1965 as the umbrella body of the private sector in Kenya was set up to create a unified and single voice for private sector, so as to influence public.
For the past six months, the premier business umbrella body has been under the leadership of Richard Ngatia, appointed in June, 2019.
Ngatia has helped the body institutionalize systems and increase its capacity to build the organization so as to fulfil the needs and expectations of its members.
The KNCCI president has increased chamber memberships by having monthly membership
recruitment drives in Muranga, Embu and Kirinyaga counties. This is done through the automation for the application of the certificate of origin, the Kenya chamber annual golf tournament and a countrywide capacity building Program that aims to de-risk SMEs through financial literacy training.
Finally, the chamber has been increasing memberships through the Central Region Enterprise Support Forum.
Mr Ngatia also strives to improve service delivery to chamber members by creating viable partnerships with and not limited to the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA).
KNCCI and KBA partnered in the creation of Inuka Program that aims to support Micro, Small and Medium-sized businesses (MSMEs).
The body has also worked closely with the Ministry of Public Service Youth and Gender Affairs to create the KNCCI Huduma Centres. This initiative was in support of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
A partnership was also created with Technical and Vocational Education and Training institutions (TVET) and Federation of Kenyan Employers (FKE); meant to train fresh youths and equip them with skills needed for the employment world.
Also achieved under Ngatia’s leadership was a link with Sustainable Urban Economic Development Project (SUED) which offers grants to business across the participating municipalities.
This year, KNCCI set up the Kenya Business Awards, an initiative that recognizes the contributions of small and medium enterprises for their exceptional achievements towards industrial transformation and output, employment generation and job creation.
Also on its list of achievements, this year is the improvement of financial stability. In a report, Ngatia notes that the body received donations in excess of Sh250 million.
The monies were received from European Union, Financial Sector Deepening (FSD Kenya), Swedish International Development Corporation Agency (SIDA), Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), USAID, Business Advocacy Fund and World Bank.
KNCCI was also able to create stronger chamber chapters by strengthening governance systems at national and county levels. For example, Kirinyaga County chamber office was refurbished and equipped with printers and computers.
In enhancing its advocacy role, KNCCI president signed the commitment Charter to support the implementation of the National Integrated Export Promotion and Development Strategy. This was done by communicating on the market access challenges and making recommendations for their elimination.
KNCCI also lobbied for the operationalization of the SME fund and the payment of pending bills for suppliers for goods and services made to the National and county governments.
The national government owes contractors and suppliers Sh94 billion while county governments, on the other hand, are knee-deep to a tune of Sh225 billion.
In June and November, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered governments to pay off their debts to suppliers. Their lack of payment contributed to unemployment and damaged the economy.
Mr Ngatia has in the last six months promote equity in running the chamber affairs by establishing a more equitable distribution formula for sharing proceeds from the issuance of certificates of origin among counties.
He has also helped negotiate for the inclusion of Chamber leaders as board members in counties and municipalities. There has also been an expansion of functional chamber committees and championing of a free working environment for regional directors in execution of their mandates.
Ngatia has also facilitated for the linkage of all regional directors to respective partners and Government agencies.
Numerous business forums have also been held with Hong Kong, Belarus, Botswana, Japan and has hosted foreign diplomats including Luxemburg, Serbia, France, DRC Congo, Madagascar, Czech Republic, India Korea, Israel, Germany, Ukraine, Jordan, Switzerland among others.
Speaking on matters “wrangles with Women In Business” with chairperson Mary Nyachae, Ngatia says it exists only because it was a “discretionary outfit thought out” by his predecessor Kiprono Kittony.
He further noted that its existence is entirely premised on the powers of the president, adding that the chambers have an internal dispute resolution mechanism that could have heard Ms Nyachae’s complaints without involving third parties.
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He also mentioned that he is yet to nominate chairpersons to the various sectoral committees. The WIB leaders, he said, will democratically elect one of their own.
In November, he signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry to open a satellite trade office in the United Arab Emirates.
The agreement will enable and provide strategic bilateral cooperation between the business communities in Kenya and UAE with an objective to foster cooperation in trade, investment, joint activities, information and trade policy support programmes.
Again, European Union (EU) representative to Kenya Ambassador Simon Mordue vowed to continue funding private sector projects that work around renewable energy and climate change.
According to the envoy who paid a courtesy call to Ngatia, EU will fund projects of up to €25 million (Sh2.8 billion).
“The Chamber is ready to work together with the EU to support key investments and industrialization agenda in key areas such as agribusiness and agro-processing, ICT, infrastructure and energy. Kenya has unlimited investment opportunities,” Ngatia said.
The Chamber president also pledges to fast track the completion of the strategic plan for the Chamber, improve membership engagement to enhance service delivery, enhance government relations by engaging at various levels.
Ngatia has also promised to improve the body’s engagement with the various partners to enhance its international agenda and economic diplomacy, implement various projects and programs across the counties and improve service delivery and enhance the membership base of the chamber.