BOARD CHAIR – KEPSA
Ms Flora Mutahi describes herself as a passionate entrepreneur and innovator. The magnate is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Melvin Marsh International, the company responsible for manufacturing Melvin’s Tea, a Kenyan tea brand loved by many.
In May 2021, Flora was appointed Chair of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) Board, and has since been steering the business lobby group towards advancing the interests of the country’s private sector.
According to Ms Mutahi, 2022 was a successful year for KEPSA, as her teams worked tirelessly to ensure the private sector benefited from the initiatives that were launched. Through the efforts of the various sector boards, KEPSA made major resolutions and decisions that resulted in cushioning businesses, enhancing competitiveness and improving the overall ease of doing business in Kenya.
Guided by Flora’s inspirational leadership style, KEPSA has played an active role in advocating for reforms that support the development of the private sector, including improvements to the regulatory environment. Various laws have been enacted with KEPSA’s input and participation.
For example, in 2022, the alliance succeeded in pushing for the operationalisation of the Bribery Act of 2016, instituted with the aim of providing a framework for the prevention, investigation and punishment of giving and receiving bribes.
Driven by the goal of reducing barriers to doing business in Kenya, KEPSA has been working closely with the government. One notable achievement of 2022 is the development of the County Governments’ Induction Manual. KEPSA’s Sector Board participated in the co-creation and validation of the manual to serve as a yardstick for the incoming governors, to enhance the business environment across counties.
KEPSA is engaging with players in the energy sector to positively influence legislation. With the help of the alliance, the Finance Act of 2022 exempts electricity generation (from renewable sources) from value-added tax (VAT). This has reduced the cost of doing business, making it possible for more people, especially those not connected to the main electricity grid, to access electricity.
KEPSA recognises the tremendous potential of Kenya’s youth and is committed to empowering them to succeed. On 31st October 2022, Deputy President (DP) Rigathi Gachaugua launched a KEPSA-driven innovative youth initiative dubbed the Kenya Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program (KYEEAP). KYEEAP seeks to create at least one million employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for the Kenyan youth in the next 5 years. “I believe that investing in the next generation is critical to building a brighter future for Kenya,” Ms Mutahi commented during the launch.
KEPSA has launched several initiatives to support micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). These include training programs as well as access to finance and markets. For instance, The KEPSA MSME Accelerator Program, which supports women and youth in business, reached 209 businesses in 2022, surpassing its original target of 200. The program helps improve competitiveness among MSMEs and creates more job opportunities.
As KEPSA looks to 2023, it has set ambitious goals. One agenda is the launch of the KEPSA-CBi partnership agreement that was signed in 2022 by the KEPSA Security Sector Board and Connecting Business initiative (CBi). The collaboration has brought on board different stakeholders such as government representatives, media entities, the private sector, and MSMEs. The focus of KEPSA-CBi is to improve the resilience of societies and businesses, save more lives, and safeguard livelihoods.
KEPSA is committed to continuing its work in youth empowerment by expanding skills training programs, for example, the Ajira Digital Program. “We want to reach more young people, to help them acquire the skills they need to succeed in digitally-enabled work, and to provide the tools, training and mentorship they need to work and earn an income with dignity,” Flora asserted during a recent interview.
With Ms Mutahi as the lead of the Board, KEPSA remains committed to elevating the private sector in Kenya and supporting its members towards achieving their goals. “I believe that a strong and competitive private sector is critical to driving economic growth, creating jobs for the youth, and reducing poverty in Kenya. I am proud of the progress KEPSA has made to date,” Flora concludes.
Ms Mutahi holds a Bachelor of Science (BSc.) degree in Accounting and Finance, obtained from the United States International University-Africa (USIU-A). She has an Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA), awarded by the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa. Ms Mutahi is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
The accounting expert has held numerous board positions throughout her career. These include: Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), Vice Chair (2014-2016) and Chair (2016-2018); Export Promotion Council Kenya (EPC), Director (2015-2018); Common Market of the Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Business Council, Vice Chair (2016-2018); and Anti-Counterfeit Authority (ACA), Chair (2018-2021).
Ms Mutahi is currently a Board Member of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) New York, and a Director of the Azizi Realtors Limited Board.