Driving on a Nyahururu road on a chilly November morning in 2017, Governor Ndiritu Muriithi noticed a crowd
milling around a small homemade car.
Is it working? He enquired after stopping at the spot. When the man seated behind the steering wheel responded in affirmative, he promised to come back and have a ride.
Later, after attending a general staff meeting at the Nyahururu Social Hall, the Governor returned to the scene tagging his deputy John Mwaniki along and hopped into the car for a ride around the town.
The man who has made this car is far much better than many engineering professors who have never made anything. He has believed in himself. We are going to create a science fund to support such innovators. he would remark.
What followed was the birth of the Laikipia Innovation and Enterprise Development Programme (LIEDP) which was organized annual innovation and enterprise development fairs where winning innovations and business ideas were identified for handholding and linkage to strategic partners.
The program sprung into the national limelight last week when former Prime Minister Raila Odinga not only praised
it is the best model to end poverty but also bought some products.
I am happy to see the Laikipia county government under the leadership of Governor Ndiritu Muriithi making a deliberate effort to uplift the SMEs. It’s something that other counties should emulate. Mr. Odinga said.
He said linking SMEs to capital, skills development, and access to the market is what is needed to enable these SMEs to grow. We must start supporting our industries by stopping being net importers.
Drawing examples from the history of Mercedes Benz, Ford, and Toyota, Odinga described the Laikipia SMEs growth model as impressive and which should be replicated nationally.
These were people who started small but the government supported them to grow into big manufacturers employing a lot of people. he said.
Under the program, the county government has repurposed 174 of its staff to full-time business development officers specifically support SMEs grow into mass producers of goods and services to create additional jobs and grow the local economy.
Working with 26 partners, the business development officers were by last month supporting 1,504 SMEs which
according to the presentation during the former prime minister’s visit, had created 18,700 new jobs in the county.
Our target is to have a minimum of 5,000 in the next year. says Ms. Winnie Gathoni, the chief officer, Innovation and Enterprise Development.
Support to the SMEs under the Laikipia model includes the provision of working space, market linkage, intellectual
property rights registration, link to strategic partnerships, business planning development, business and technical training link to relevant certification and product development and design.
Others include access to finance, mechanization of enterprises to enable mass production, and enhancement of
The model also includes a Sh.3.3 billion economic stimulus fund set up through a partnership between the county
government and several banks. Banks lend to businesses at normal market rates but the county government
discounts the interest rate by five percent. This means if the bank is lending interest of 12 percent, the business will repay at 7 percent.
Businesses can access facilities such as working capital, asset finance, invoice discounting, Local Purchase Orders (LPOs), Group loans, and Agribusiness loans. The main idea is to enable SMEs to stand up again after the slowdown by the Covid-19 pandemic as well as asset finance.
According to Ms. Mwangi, 724 MSMEs have so far been linked to funding, while 156 were formalized and 83 were given workspaces. She says 148 Laikipia-made products have been placed both in local and international markets, 16 other products have filed for utility models and patents.
In 2019, 10 Laikipia enterprises showcased their products in Rwanda during the 20 th East Africa Community MSMEs trade fair. The team got a chance to market their products and learn from other enterprises across the East African Community.
I sell my products in the East African region, Nigeria, Congo, and Rwanda as a result of this exposure. said David Burii who makes maize drier.
Two months ago, the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) registered BJ50 – the four-wheeler tuk-tuk
that Governor Ndiritu Muriithi rode on in 2017. Ms. Mwangi says the firm assembling it is preparing for mass production with at least 15 Nyahururu-based sub-contractors.
The county is preparing to start exploiting iron ore and other mineral huge deposits in the county to accelerate the industrialization process.