CS Simon Chelugui Wants Kenyans to Exploit Upcoming Burundi MSME Trade Fair

The government will send 300 Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises to Burundi to exploit business opportunities in the upcoming East Africa Community (EAC) MSMEs trade fair.

Speaking at a press briefing at the NSSF Building in Upper Hill, Nairobi, on Wednesday, Henry Rithaa, CEO of Micro and Small Enterprises Authority (MSEA), acknowledged the role the government is playing in empowering MSMEs.

He also thanked President William Ruto and Cooperatives CS Simon Chelugui for creating an enabling environment for MSMEs, adding that his organisation had received the major backing of all state agencies and private stakeholders ahead of the event.

“We are all aware that no matter how much we produce, we must get an outlet for the products that MSMEs are producing. We are happy that we are inaugurating the national organising committee that will plan this year’s participation of Kenya in the annual MSME EAC trade fair in Burundi,” Rithaa stated.

MSEA Chair James Mureu, Cooperative CEO Simon Chelugui (centre) and CEO MSEA Henry Rithaa (second right) at NSSF buildings where the government launched the National Organising Committee for the 23rd EAC MSMEs Trade Fair in Burundi


John Mbati

The EAC MSMEs trade fair is an annual regional event held on a rotational basis in one of the EAC partner states. This year’s edition of the trade fair is scheduled to be held from Dec 5-15 in Bujumbura, Burundi.

“It should be observed that this annual event has been extremely important for us as a government because, without it, we would not be able to expose the MSMEs to the international market, which affects the logical progression of small business players,” Rithaa added.

At the event, Co-operatives CS Simon Chelugui launched the National Organizing Committee for the 23rd East Africa Community (EAC) MSMEs trade fair.

The CS asked the 300 Kenyan SMEs and entrepreneurs participating in the fair trade to exploit existing business opportunities in Burundi and create new ones, too.  He also lauded MSEA, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Chamber of Commerce and other key players who were crucial in organising the trade fair.

“Our SMEs can take advantage of the excellent relations between the two countries to establish a foothold and exploit the emerging opportunities in trade and investment. Possible areas of investment and market penetration include Agro-processing, Education, Health and Medical, Finance & Banking, Energy, Light Manufacturing, and the construction industry.

The CS further lauded the trade fair, saying that since its inception, it has enabled EAC countries to expand into new markets and also adopt and partner together in new technologies. It has also strengthened the diplomatic relations between the nations Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, DRC, and South Sudan.

According to Chelugui, the recent entry of DRC into EAC expanded the market size to over 300 million people and GDP to approximately US$250 billion) and the volume of goods traded between Kenya and other member partners. It also enhanced the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

“The implementation of the AfCFTA is expected to enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level through the exploitation of opportunities for production at scale, continental market access, and better reallocation of resources,” Chelugui stated.

Burundi, which will host this year’s event, was targeted for its green resources yet to be exploited. Kenyan MSMEs can thus set up shop in the country owing to the better diplomatic relations between Kenya and Burundi. The government can also leverage expanding trade with the country.

For instance, this year’s theme – connecting East Africa MSMEs to enhance intra–EAC Trade’ – aligns with the government’s Buy Kenya Build Kenya economic strategy and East Africa.

Cooperative CEO Simon Chelugui (centre) poses for a photo with MSME stakeholders after launching the National Organising Committee for the 23rd EAC MSMEs Trade Fair in Burundi on Wednesday, November 1, 2023


John Mbati

The Industrialisation Strategy targets to increase intra-regional manufacturing of exports relative to total manufactured imports in the region to at least 25 per cent by 2032.

At the upcoming fair trade,1,500 MSMEs will present their new products and groundbreaking services. Additionally, they will offer insights into their life-altering innovations and creative strategies that have empowered them to successfully manoeuvre the current economic challenges despite strict standard operating procedures (SOPs).

“I also implore the Stakeholders engaged in the committee led by the Micro and Small Enterprises Authority (MSEA), which is spearheading and coordinating Kenya’s participation in this trade fair, to ensure a successful event and fruitful business engagements and outcomes

Other attendees at the launch graced by Chelugui were Micro and Small Enterprises Authority (MSEA) Chairman James Mureu and representatives from public and private sector entities.

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