KEPSA (Kenya Private Sector Alliance) was launched in 2003 as a summit organization of the private sector in Kenya. It is a limited liability membership body. The main objective of KEPSA is to unite players in the business industry in an exclusive voice to implement public policy and facilitate a conducive business environment.
Today, KEPSA boasts a membership of over 500,000 both indirect and direct members drawn from corporates and business organizations. These numbers are expected to rise exponentially in the coming years.
The organization has played a huge role in advocating for the welfare of the Kenyan business community in terms of industrial, investment, and trade. KEPSA aims at becoming a renowned summit body of the private sector, and their mission is to guarantee general yearly enhancement in the Kenyan business industry, by collaborating with various stakeholders and the government.
KEPSA’s mission is propelled by its business approach, whose principle goal is to implement a business environment in the coming years by guaranteeing annual enhancement in three major international business classifications which are;
· Bribery index
Transparency international published the inaugural bribe payer’s index on the 26th of October 1999. This is a concept that seeks to unearth the willingness of a country’s business industry to undertake corrupt business processes.
· Global competitiveness index
The global competitiveness index is a concept by the World Economic Forum. It is a collection of factors, policies, and institutions that dictates a country’s technical and public institutions conditions, and its productivity level.
The rankings utilize statistics accessed publicly from various sources such as; the World Bank or International Monetary Funds. The verdict is then compiled in a report (Global Competitiveness Report) which is later made public via collaboration with various partner organizations drawn from the business and research industries.
What are the Components of the GCI Report?
The report contains an evaluation of major factors essential for establishing a conducive business environment in a country to allow competitiveness, and create room for players to air their views. Additionally, it analyzes a country’s weak points and strengths, and defines priorities to promote the application of political transformation measures.
Ease of doing business index
The ease of doing business index is a concept by the World Bank. It is a cumulative figure which shows a collection of factors which determines how easy it is to do business in a certain country. This index is arrived at by calculating the distance to borderline scores of various economies. This utilizes the best practices for business execution as the framework and criterion economies.
KEPSA has been quite instrumental in political, economic, and business transformations by organizing private and public dialogues for institutional, and policy legislative reforms in the business environment. These include;
- PRTs (Presidential Round Table)
- Speaker’s round table which includes both national and senate assemblies
- Ministerial stakeholder forums
- Chief justice forum
- Council of governors round table
- Attorney general’s forum
In the organization’s quest to spearhead political and economic transformations, KEPSA has engaged in;
Vision 2030 & Medium Term Plans
Peace development drives necessitated by the post election violence experienced in the country in 2008. This is done through Mkenya Daima which was launched in 2012 with the aim of uniting Kenyans and instilling a spirit of togetherness and brotherly love in the period preceding the 2013 general elections.
- Private sector development strategy carried out between the years 2006 and 2010
- Economic Recovery Strategy for employment and wealth creation of 2003
- Participation and collaboration in constitution implementation procedure
KEPSA (Kenya Private Sector Alliance) Foundation
The KEPSA foundation was established on the 15th day of April 2015. Its main focus is to advocate for both economic and social revolution in Kenya via collaboration with the national and county governments, and various global organizations with which they have a common goal.
There are two major community projects that necessitated the launch of KEPSA foundation;
- Kenya Youth Empowerment Project
- Mkenya Daima
The former was established and implemented between 2010 and 2015 as a training and career preparation project for the private sector, whose objective is to develop fresh graduates in preparation for the job market.
Mkenya Daima as mentioned herewith was launched in 2012 following the post election violence of 2008. The main objective of Mkenya Daima is to promote togetherness, and unity among Kenyans to avert post election violence in the future.
KEPSA foundation is a legal institution and the social branch of KEPSA. It is authorized to undertake and dedicate its budget to social projects by the private sector which is essential for social and economic development in the country in regard to the susceptible members within the society. The foundation achieves this by promoting and hosting both self reliant projects and those from other organizations.
The foundation targets social matters in various sectors with the aim of enhancing various business surroundings which are;
- Ethics and sound business practices
- National value system
- Conservation of water and environment
- Enterprise development and productivity
- Children welfare
- Women youth and gender empowerment
There are three pillars that reinforce the above mentioned limited areas. They are;
· Knowledge institute pillar
This involves collecting data that can be beneficial to KEPSA members within the foundation which includes; climate, business and investment opportunities, and economy. The institute in this case is mandated to collect business data.
· Socio economic transformation pillar
Evaluating social sectors which promote the business society and country in general
· Sustainability pillar
This involves analyzing probable investment areas to guarantee continuity of KEPSA foundation and KEPSA organization.
In order to implement its vision, KEPSA foundation consists of 14 trustees tasked with overseeing its policy and strategic direction.
Private Sector Association and How it Influences Job Creation in Kenya
According to this survey, close to 78% of the population in Kenya is below the age of 35 years, with approximately 800,000 youth getting into the job market annually. The unemployed youths however, make the largest percentage and there is a high likelihood that they feel both economically and politically excluded.
There is an imminent risk that these youths may in the future demand for a distinguished lifestyle and this can disrupt peace in the country. Therefore, both the government and the private sectors have a duty to generate opportunities that accommodate and engage youth in both in nation and community development.
The rate of unemployment in Kenya is no doubt growing exponentially each year, with thousands of youth graduating from various institutions of higher learning. To curb this predicament, there is need to create at least 1 million jobs annually and the private sector has an integral role to play in this.
Doing Business in Kenya
Fortunately, Kenya has a conducive business environment where entrepreneurs can venture in different businesses depending on their passion and desires. The last few years have seen major transformations and developments of numerous opportunities and markets. Currently, the private sector in the country is adequately developed, dynamic, and is home to one of the hugest business societies across sub-Saharan Africa.
Classification of the Private Sector
The private sector is divided into two categories which are;
- Informal or large business industry
- Formal sector
The large business industry also known as the informal sector is productive and vigorous, and consists of both medium and small sized businesses. These are often poorly sustained when it comes to proficiency development programs, financing, and working conditions. Even then, many youths work in the informal sector with statistics showing that approximately 9 out of every 10 workers are employed within the informal sector.
Youth unemployment has been a major challenge for a long time now. Successive governments have laid down various strategies to curb this menace. Even then, there did not seem to be any that involved the private sector adequately until the post election violence happened in Kenya in 2007/2008.
The private sector under KEPSA held discussions with the government in a bid to deliberate on youth unemployment and come up with robust concepts detailing how it would chip in and help. The discussions concluded with the inauguration of an exclusive project aimed at undertaking skill imbalance, and whose objective was to expose youth to the job industry and ensure that they received essential work experience.
The project was dubbed KYEP (Kenya Youth Empowerment Project), and it was the premier private public partnership exclusively undertaking youth unemployment. This was and has been a critical collaboration and dedication for both the private sector and government in recent times. World Bank funded the trial project via a credit provision.
Generally, the project seeks to convince the private sector to avail workplace and training internships for youths between the age of 15 and 29 years, who have at least attended school for 8 years. According to KEPSA, this will enhance youth employability.
To benefit from this initiative, individuals should;
- Not be engaged in any type of employment whether self or otherwise
- Have been away from school for a period of more than a year
Inauguration of the Program
A training requirements test was carried out at the beginning of the project in order to establish skills required by employers in various sectors. This was aimed at equipping participants with market oriented expertise to help them obtain self or wage based employment within a period of six months after completing the program. Below are testimonials from beneficiaries of the program.
· Testimonial 1
The program has so far benefitted many youth, one of whom is a young girl from the Somali community who came from a humble background. Following her circumstances, she could not complete her education and had to drop out from her second year in secondary school for lack of school fees.
Even then, she was persistent on transforming her life against all odds. According to her, life changed one day when representatives from the Kenya Youth Empowerment Program visited her home. She submitted her application and she was selected. She engaged in a two week compulsory life skills training and extra three week training on fundamental business skills.
In addition, she undertook an entrepreneurship skills training for two weeks. She said that the training enhanced her self esteem, enabling her to address public gatherings, something she could not do before. Despite the fact that women in her community are not allowed to speak to gatherings, she can now confidently address huge gatherings.
The program has played a major role in transforming her to be the person she has become today according to her. She got a placement with an employer with a tailoring outlet in a large market. The employer was encouraging, supportive, and played a major role in mentoring her to become independent.
She made little savings from the allowance she received from KEPSA which enabled her to purchase a sewing machine. At the completion of the program, she could not afford enough capital to obtain a business establishment. This, however, did not stop her from following her dreams and she started sewing clothes from her home.
What she began with a few customers grew enabling her to open a fashion design shop mainly focusing on sewing bed covers. Today, she comfortably makes $40 in profit in a day.
· Testimonial 2
Another beneficiary of this program is a gentleman who holds a Human Resource Management Diploma with special focus on Administration and Finance. After graduating, he was hopeful of finding a job almost immediately. However, this was not to be as he spent a whole three years seeking for employment.
He was selected to join the Kenya Youth Empowerment Program. According to the soft spoken gentleman, the life skills training was life changing and engaging. He particularly loved the fundamental business skills training. Later on, he was posted at the human resource department in Diversey Eastern and Central Africa Ltd.
This exposed him to numerous employment opportunities and he learnt a lot and gained experience in human resource management. Today, he works as an assistant human resource manager with a take home salary of $625 per month.
These testimonials are an indication of just how much fruit the collaboration between the government, development partners, and the private sector has born. Thus far, 8 out of 10 participants in this program engage in profitable economic activities either as entrepreneurs or employed individuals.
Many employers have lauded the efforts by KEPSA in ensuring that the youth are armed with unique skills during the training, especially when it comes to boosting their self esteem, communication, presentation, and confidence.
Ajira Digital Project
The digital industry has come of age and Kenya has not been left behind in this revolution. Many Kenyans are embracing digital jobs to cope with unemployment.
In order to maximize on digital opportunities, Kepsa in conjunction with the Kenyan Government via the MoICT (Ministry of Information Communication and Technology) recently launched the Ajira Digital Project.
The main objective of the Ajira Digital Project is to act as a mediator between scarcity of jobs and demand for skills. Scaling up of this project will be determined by the lessons learnt along the way.
The Ajira Digital Project is expected to place Kenya as the preferred labor haven for global companies. Additionally, it will inspire both the public sector and local organizations to avail digital jobs. In the end, Ajira Digital Project is set to convert Kenya into an international haven for digital work and a freelance center by 2022. Below is a summary of the Ajira Digital Project objectives;
- To advocate for a collaborative and mentorship learning concept to finding online jobs
- To improve the outline of online work among all Kenyans
- To ensure that online jobs are available to all Kenyans
- To promote Kenya as a haven for online workers.
The Ajira Digital Project will collaborate with experienced online workers to train newbies. During the training, inexperienced workers will be equipped with introductory training expertise to digital marketing, online work, and essential financial management.
In addition, experienced online workers will receive training to equip them with scaling skills. These will help them grow and transform their businesses into agencies, enabling them to source for additional work which they can share with newbies. Experienced workers will provide mentorship to the newbies for the period of one month.
What has Ajira Digital Project Achieved so Far?
- 7,168 inexperienced online workers have so far undergone training and mentorship services. 1,984 out of those individuals are female. This group is currently making money out of online work.
- 125 experienced workers have received training entrepreneurship and are now equipped with skills to help them expand their online businesses.
KEPSA has been the driving force behind major improvements in the country enabling the youth to get essential skill based training, and shaping them in readiness for the job market. The private sector receives an allowance to encourage them to take part in the program. However, plans are underway to engage the private sector in a long term commitment to address and minimize youth unemployment in Kenya.