There is on average one small business for every seven Kenyans showing the saturation of the country’s market as jobless Kenyans seek to employ themselves in the informal sector.
Kenya, which has a population of 51 million, has about 7.4 million small and medium enterprises according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
This has put highly competitive businesses against each other in a very small market; often cannibalizing each other, overlapping and duplicating services leading to most businesses closing shop in the first year of operations.
This has created an urgent need to scout for markets outside the country by finding new frontiers and gaps that need to be filled.
But foreign markets are usually tricky. Finding a trustworthy partner is always difficult while navigating the regulatory and cultural obstacles or even finding a financial partner to fund such a risky endeavor is almost impossible.
That is why Equity Bank’s Kenya trade mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a revolutionary idea that will not only help small businesses excel but will create the future multi-billion companies straddling the East Africa regional market.
First, DRC with a current population of 100 million people, offers a market that Kenyan-based corporate giants, let alone small businesses, would simply dream of.
“The two governments have signed various MOUs, which make it easier for Congolese businessmen to go to Kenya and Kenyan businessmen to come here and do business. So, the political goodwill is now the incentive to get on board and do business,” said Kenya’s ambassador to the DRC, Dr George Masafu.
With a surface area equivalent to that of entire Western Europe, the DRC is the largest country in Sub-Saharan Africa by landmass.
The equatorial nation is offering huge untapped opportunities for access to one of the world’s largest and unexplored economic frontiers.
Kinshasa also offers Kenya and the world opportunities for sourcing raw materials to feed into the growing number of manufacturing companies including high-value minerals such as cobalt and copper.
The nation’s hydropower production potential, vast arable land, immense biodiversity, and the world’s second-largest rainforest provide the right fodder for the next phase of entrepreneurship.
DRC is already a huge destination for Kenyan-made merchandise given that the country is landlocked and the huge market’s appetite for consumer goods that are readily available in Kenya.
Further, the DRC is the sixth leading export market for Kenyan products in the world with agricultural and manufactured goods topping the list.
“The Congolese people and Kenyan people are working together through trade, which is a very sustainable way of building reciprocal relationships,” notes Dr Masafu.
The inaugural trade mission to the DRC will encourage Kenyan private sector players to venture into the country in the heart of Africa by showing entrepreneurs the untapped opportunities within the market.
Equity Group is helping bridge the gap by helping SMEs get credible partners in Congo and on top of that opening the funding taps that will unlock the potential of regionally connected businesses.
“We have Kes500 billion available to support and facilitate private sector and the business community to grow and expand their businesses in Kenya and the region. Equity has operated in DRC since 2015 and has grown to become the second-largest bank in DRC. We have gained enough experience in the six markets we operate in and the region to support businesses that are looking to venture into DRC and the larger East and Central Africa,” Equity Group Managing Director, and CEO, Dr James Mwangi, said.
Equity Group says they believe in championing the economic prosperity of the people of Africa and they are excited to create a platform that encourages the networking and benchmarking of business opportunities while at the same time availing market intelligence – key elements that promote the growth and success of enterprises in the East and Central African region in line with Equity’s post-COVID Africa resilience and growth plan.