CEO KENYA PRIVATE SECTOR ALLIANCE (KEPSA)
As a ring-side participant at the launch of the Kenya-US SME Trade and Entrepreneurship Initiative in the US; As a distinguished member of the Presidential Delegation with host or visiting Presidents, Prime Ministers, International Trade Ministers and Heads of Government Delegations.
As the lead economic or social policy formulation and implementation team for a diverse number of issues; As the lead in Private-Public Partnerships as the mobilization of the private sector to raise money to supplement the government efforts in procure Covid-19 vaccines.
As a signatory on behalf of KEPSA with a number of DFIs and International Grant Institutions: Kenyans have become accustomed to one sharply and meticulously dressed woman. Diminutive but highly visible, intelligent but humble in delivery, very deep in content and yet well prepared in presentation eloquence and delivery: Meet Carole Kariuki.
Through her official duties and her passion and love for her country, Carole has earned the singularly honour of being the de-facto Ambassador of a flamboyant coterie of witty, youthful and highly learned women CEOs, chairs of boards and Non-Executive Directors of numerous bodies and multi-national corporations (MNCs), global brands, international institutions, civil societies and business lobby organisations in Kenya that the government of Kenya has become accustomed to effectively resolve a number of economic and social issues bedevilling the country.
Carole has matured with time and exposure to become the most mature, dependable, informed, astute and organised business leader in Kenya, objectively loyal and of service to her country, Kenya, to a fault. For instance, Carole Kariuki looked flamboyant in a Kenya made dress and a matching but striking hand bag in pure Kenyan leather manufactured by an MSME, to international standards and spewing superior quality. In all these, Carole has trans – formed an initially elitist and ego-centric big business lobby group to one that is now the ‘Be In’ institutions, where privileged invitation to serve is always viewed with glee, if not envy.
In addition, Carole Kariuki’s frequent presence on NTV, KTN and Citizen TV early morning and late evening shows, have only served to endear her to viewers as one of the rare, intelligent, informed and most articulate panellists.
Capping this up, her regular back-to-back participation in local and global webinars deliberating on practically all aspects of policy formulation and project management and implementations have but continued to propel her for a steep national leadership responsibility in this country, if not beyond the borders.
For instance, Carole Kariuki’s capacity for work and team leadership, is best expressed by the numerous projects and initiatives she has implemented in the last six months. These include:
- The e-commerce Booster Program whose aim was to support MSMEs with little or no e-commerce presence to get on board e-commerce platforms to increase and diversify their revenue streams during and post the CovidD-19 Pandemic period. 2,600 SMEs were trained on e-commerce and digital marketing and on-boarded to various e-commerce platforms. This initiative increased uptake of e-commerce in Kenya.
- In response to the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on cross-border trade, KEPSA implemented the Safe Trade Emergency Fund Project in partnership with EU and Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA). Advocacy work with border agencies saw the long queues in Busia and Malaba reduce significantly.
- Private Sector Vaccine Booster Programme in which KEPSA partnered with government to import 1Million doses and boost vaccination efforts of its members and the general public. 264 KEPSA members registered for phase one.
- To enhance efficiency and coordination of trade facilitation agencies, KEPSA continues to hold round tables with the three arms of government, county governments and regional forums. In the last 6 months, KEPSA has held key engagements including Judiciary roundtable, Senate Speaker’s roundtable, and KRA roundtable. These engagements result in major advocacy wins, resolutions and decisions to cushion businesses, enhance competitiveness and improve the overall ease of doing business in Kenya.
- Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience Program mobilized MSMEs to access emergency financial support facility and provide training and mentorship for Youth and Women MSMEs. 106 businesses have benefited from the short-term loan financing without interest and no collateral required amounting to KES 42,003,532.
- KEPSA is working with the Ministry of East African Community and Regional Development to support the operationalization of the Small Claims Court in Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi, as part of the Ease of Doing Business Agenda. The court is a major boost to MSMEs as it hears and determines matters within 60 days, thereby releasing assets and finances back into circulation in a shorter period. The court which can hear cases not exceeding KES 1,000,000 has so far heard more than 481 cases of the 1222 registered cases. Besides reducing case log in the Judiciary system, the Court has increased the liquidity of the MSMEs whose commercial cases would otherwise have been prolonged.
- Ajira digital project is partnership between the Government of Kenya, through the Ministry of ICT and E-Mobilis with funding from the MasterCard Foundation with an aim to bridge the gap between skills demand and jobs by introducing young people to digital and digitally enabled work and provide the tools, training and mentorship needed for young people to work and earn an income with dignity. Under the Project, 61 courts have been digitized through data entry/scanning and transcription. As of November 2021, 46,000+ youth had been linked to digital and digitally enabled jobs with over 60 local and international digital platforms. The jobs created are mainly in digital marketing, data entry, writing articles for websites, blogging/vlogging, website design and academic writing.
- Youth Labour market Intermediation service – KEPSA has been at the forefront in supporting youth access internships, apprenticeship, industrial attachment, job shadowing opportunities especially in the private sector. Through Wezesha Youth Placement Program, awareness creation, 131 organizations have been mobilized as employers with a total of 372 placement opportunities realized. Currently the program is focused on matching potential scholars for interviews and placement, a process geared towards building skills required.
- Better Business Practices for Children project that aims at leveraging and scaling up private sector intervention in line with the National Initiatives of promoting and improving Maternal, Infant and Young Nutrition Practices.
- KEPSA contributed to the planning and execution of the 2 billion Tree Growing Campaign lead by Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Private Sector made commitment of 67,000,000 seedlings as at May 2021. The renature platform under development will be a great resource in tracking the implementation of the pledges given by the private sector.
- With funding from the French Embassy, SIB-K is implementing the second phase of Creating Opportunities and Alleviating Poverty through Sustainable Trade II (COAST II) in Tudor, Mombasa County. In the second phase, three private sector players have partnered with the entrepreneurs within the waste management value chain, especially plastics and organic waste. The project participated in the clean-up at Kaachonjo dumpsite in Tudor during the World Clean-up Day, collecting 5 tons of waste and trained 132 households on separation of waste at source. The project conducted training to 102 women from Tudor on the waste to value concept and financial literacy and created linkages between the private sector and the women with the ambition to reduce the quantity of waste to the dumpsite by creating value. Construction of a receptacle is underway with the anticipation to finish construction by October 2021.
- The Kenya Plastics Pact program-The Pact is a voluntary, collaborative program that brings together businesses, governments, civil society, and NGOs in the country behind a shared vision of a circular economy for plastics, where plastics never become waste or pollution. The development and implementation of the Pact is led by Sustainable Inclusive Business Kenya (SIB-K), the Knowledge Center under KEPSA, with support from WRAP – the UK-based global environmental NGO and MAVA Foundation. 16 members have signed so far, with 6 being supporters and 10 being paying members.
- Mkenya Daima 2022 (Phase-V) which is a non- partisan multi stakeholder platform whose primary purpose is to inspire Kenyans towards peaceful elections and prosperity thereafter. Building on the interventions and lessons learnt under previous Mkenya Daima phases, Mkenya Daima 2022 is Phase V and will not only focus on peaceful elections and smooth transition, but will seek to build more on Wajibu Wangu, which is rallying all Kenyans to be responsible for Kenya and to choose the right leaders at every level.
- Partnership with the Blue Company Project to strengthen the fight against corruption among members and the private sector at large. Under Carole Kariuki’s charge, additional projects have been lined up for the first 6 months of 2022. These projects and initiatives include:
Training and mentoring project for women and youth SMEs on business continuity supported by Irish embassy. The project will give developing SMEs access to training and mentorship to help them become more stable and self-sufficient businesses.
KEPSA is in the process of setting up a revolving fund to support SMEs. A framework for implementation of the KES 5million seed capital is being established. Numerous MOUs have been signed and more are in the pipeline, including high level high impact trade missions. KEPSA currently has MoUs with partners all over the world and hopes to strategically use these partnerships to ignite trade and investments.
Within the last six months, KEPSA has signed 6 Memorandum of Understanding with the Canada-Africa Chamber of Business (CACB), National Business League (NBL), the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), Mouvement des entreprises de France International (MEDEF), Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) and Xetova.
Since April of 2021, KEPSA has been involved in 9 inbound and 23 outbound trade missions. While overseeing all these activities, Carole Kariuki maintains a busy engagements diary, as she champions all private sector engagements where her expertise and immense knowledge are often called upon to promote the association’s agenda of private sector growth while at the same time providing the necessary linkages with various arms of the government.
On Jamhuri Day, December 12, 2021, HE The President of Kenya bestowed the award of the Elder of the Order of the Burning Spear (EBS) on Caroline Kariuki, for her distinguished service to the country.
Lastly, in 2022, Carole Kariuki’s mettle will be tested to the limit as she unleashes the Mkenya Daima Band to help cool the political temperatures and deliver a peaceful and credible general election.
It is 2022 and a new year. All eyes are on Carole Kariuki. She is 2022 Business Monthly EA Top 25 Most Influential CEO Impacting Business.