SME banking sector in Kenya receives support from ICE

Dinah Bennett, Director and International Consultant at ICE, has been selected to join an International Senior Advisory Team to support financial institutions in Kenya to improve banking services for small medium sized enterprises (the SME banking sector).

[Pictured above: Dinah Bennett OBE with George Wachiuri CEO of real estate company Optiven, currently Kenya’s entrepreneur of the year KPMG top 100]

Innovation action research programme tackles disconnect in the SME banking sector

As major contributors to employment and wealth, leaders of innovation and developers of local markets and supply chains, the SME sector holds significant potential for contributing towards economic development. The apparent disconnect between financial institutions and SMEs, however, is impeding the capacity of banks to make a meaningful contribution, representing a lost opportunity for businesses, for the financial sector and for the world economy.

Innovative action research programme, GrowthCap, which evolved from a formative think-tank convened in Kenya some 6 years ago by the Financial Sector Deepening Trust (FSD Kenya), is now being delivered with the support of an international consultancy team which includes Dinah Bennett, her long-term associate Pat Richardson, and Tim Atterton, the former Director of Europe’s first Small Business Centre at Durham University who is now based in Western Australia, alongside other selected professionals from France, Denmark, Holland and the US. FSD, an organisation led by University of Durham PhD Graduate David Ferrand, has commissioned the GrowthCap project in direct response to its remit of supporting the development of financial markets in Kenya to stimulate wealth creation and reduce poverty.

James Kashangaki, Head of Inclusive Growth at FSD Kenya, has said

“we are delighted to have such a high powered team working with this exciting initiative of FSD Kenya. This team will be at the forefront of building inclusive financial markets in Kenya and the region.”

The objectives of GrowthCap are extensive, including:

–  Expanding Kenyan SMEs’ access to appropriate financial products and services that represent international best practice;
–  Assisting the Kenyan SME banking community to establish a stronger strategic orientation as a platform for long-term, sustainable success in a key market;
–  Building additional human capacity and capability, including technical capacity, within the Kenyan SME banking sector;
–  Building additional capacity and capability within the local Kenyan consulting sector to support the development needs of the financial sector, focusing on the SME market;
–  Establishing a small cohort of ‘SME Finance Champions’ that have the potential to be future Industry Leaders;
–  Expanding upon the existing body of knowledge in terms of SME banking excellence in Kenya;
–  Producing and disseminating widely a series of SME Banking Technical Notes and Toolkits that document the GrowthCap experience and provide expert advice and guidance to a wider group of SME-focussed Financial Institutions.

SME Banking Techical Notes and Toolkits to disseminate best practice

The GrowthCap project has been designed to identify and promote real and sustainable innovation and change in the provision of SME financial products and services – break-through thinking that has the potential to be industry defining for the financial sector. Working alongside a selected group of Kenyan SME banks as Action Research Partners (ARPs), Dinah Bennett and the GrowthCap team are now actively supporting the development of products and services that will genuinely benefit SMEs.

To sustain and extend the benefit of the one to three year partnerships between GrowthCap and its ARPs, methodologies and practices that emerge from the project are being documented into a series of SME Banking Technical Notes and Toolkits that will ultimately be disseminated widely to other SME banks, with the intention of developing best practice across the financial services sector as a whole.