The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) yesterday 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 affected women and youth- led and owned businesses. A study conducted by KESPA in May this year to assess the impact of Covid-19 found that eight two per cent of women owned or led businesses were adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Only two per cent reported positive impact, while one per cent was not affected.
Speaking at the conference, KEPSA chairman Mr. Nicholas Nesbitt, urged stakeholders to accelerate the development of action plans targeting supplier diversity. He noted that the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector has the highest potential of creating these opportunities.
“The objective of this annual conference is to accelerate advocacy for greater supplier diversification for increased market linkages for more women, youth and persons with disabilities owned enterprises with the public sector, private sector and development agencies supply chains. There is value in economic integration of diverse suppliers to support their growth as well as benefits that the enterprising business community can bring to corporate supply chains. We must therefore emphasize the creation of a diverse supply chain that works to secure the inclusion of different groups for the mutual benefit of respective organizations and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Kenya,” said Nesbitt.
The summit focused on activating greater supplier diversification in driving inclusive business and ensuring that women, youth and persons with disability-owned enterprises are accessing procurement opportunities at all levels.
The keynote speaker, Ms. Faith Kasiva, gender secretary, Ministry of Public Service and Gender challenged the stakeholders present to lead efforts towards enhancing supplier diversity in order to boost economic recovery during and post Covid -19 pandemic.
“There is no doubt that 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 thirty per cent of government contracts to be awarded to women, youth and persons with disability, under reservation and without competition from established firms. It is affirmative 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,” noted Ms. Kasiva.
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.
“Supplier diversity is a key driver of inclusion of special interest groups in business and procurement. It is a factor useful in the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) number eight (decent work and economic growth), number ten (reduced inequalities) and number twelve (responsible consumption and production),” said Dr.Joyce Mutinda, Chairperson, National Gender and Equality Commission.
KEPSA has also entered into a partnership with Mastercard Foundation to launch a fund to support MSMEs which have been hit by the pandemic through financial and technical assistance. The programme targets to give four hundred 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).