As a sociology student back at the University, my discipline included critical analysis of the economic, social and institutional sectors and it was clear that individuals have to help governments in solving both social and economic problems and I was interested in social enterprise. I have worked in a social enterprise for more than two years now and I believe that small and medium social enterprises are playing a major role in development at the bottom of the pyramid. My work experience has exposed me to the field of small and medium enterprises management. I have, over time deliberately shifted focus to social enterprises and I am looking forward to advance my understanding in the same sector.
While experiences accruing from working in a social enterprise dealing with environmental sanitation, have given me significant exposure into the social enterprise management, I appreciate that there is still much more to learn. I am convinced that more knowledge, skills and tools to be an effective global and cross cultural Enterprise development, management and promotion professional.
In Kenya, enterprises are everywhere but faced with a lot of challenges that make them appear invisible. The realities of carrying out a micro business especially in the informal settlements where the service is met by far much more demand than supply is characterized by infrastructure, logistical, financial and social challenges that reinforce the obscurity of the invisible entrepreneur. This points to the need for better enterprise management and promotion that will reorient the focus onto local entrepreneurs especially the ones in sanitation and food security businesses.
Social enterprises are key to solving pressing social needs. I played a key role in solid waste pickers and recyclers mapping and profiling as well as policy analysis and it was impressive to see the role of medium and microenterprises not just in sanitation but in environmental management and other fields like agriculture and health.
It is up to the entrepreneurs to step up and grab every opportunity they can get to make their businesses work and become visible and then the other players will be willing to give them a second look. Even when in groups, SMEs are not able to mount sufficient assets to act as security for loans and they still have low technical and personnel capacity. For example, if you want to start an informal micro-enterprise, it is usually impossible to secure micro-credit. While banks will serve well-established medium-to-large companies, in between lays an entire segment of entrepreneurs who are faced with a terrible problem: virtually no financial, technical and personnel resource services this is especially true of sanitation enterprises.
There has been a shift by entrepreneurs to invest in the less explored sectors like health and sanitation but the entrepreneurs lack the necessary skills and knowledge and given the fact that this is a sector where most of the work should be done, it’s saddening. There is need for enterprises to explore opportunities for local financing, to explore options for boosting sustainable financing mechanisms, to share experiences and lessons learned from local enterprise models and to open new opportunities.