Capacity building program brings hope to entrepreneurs

Capacity building program brings hope to entrepreneurs

BY RAPHAEL KIOKO

In 2017 Kefa Nyakundi’s brainchild, Centerprise Holdings Ltd (CHL), which comprises of 3 companies, Centerprise Africa Limited (CAL), Africa Risk Institute (ARI), and Mtaji Technologies, suffered a market downturn because of the prolonged general elections. 

This led to most of the company’s shareholders jumping ship as the business was almost going under. Consequently, as the managing director and vision carrier, this was a call to restructure the company to adjust to the changing business terrain.

Hardly had the business picked up when Covid-19 hit in 2020. This blow came on the back of an already depressed business, which led to a difficult decision to close their office and operate virtually, lay off the staff, and review engagement terms with employees to ensure business survival. 

These systemic disruptions caused ripples at the firm, creating the need to find new ways to adapt to the constantly changing market conditions to stay afloat.

“Coaching is essential for any business at any stage whether you are struggling, growing, or plateaued; it is something I would recommend to all entrepreneurs,” Nyakundi said in an interview.

While he was struggling to spruce up his business and implement a merger strategy, Invest in Africa (IIA) was ready to offer solutions. He quickly signed up to the organisation’s Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) recovery and resilience program with hopes to improve his business operations.

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, IIA partnered with Mastercard Foundation to champion the survival and resilience of SMEs. In collaboration with industry experts, IIA delivers enterprise development programs to tiny players through business coaching, virtual masterclasses, peer-to-peer mentorship, and an investor readiness program. 

The SME recovery and resilience program is still ongoing with diversification to incorporate additional partners and collaborators. This is geared towards delivering more impact to small players by enhancing their access to skills development opportunities, finance linkages, and new market streams.

Working with a certified business coach assigned to Mr Nyakundi, for instance, was an enlightening experience as the coach doubled up as an accountability partner in presenting his deliverables.

“The coaching gave me so much clarity. It gave me focus, and I got the confidence to progress with the initiatives I was doing,” he said.

Consequently, he was able to redesign and reorganize the business operations, reduce cost and create a nimble business that could operate under the new normal. 

Adopting the lean operating module developed through coaching and delivering their services using online tools, scaled up their business, building it back better. Centerprise restarted the Mtaji project, an access to capital tech platform for SMEs, using the savings made with hopes to launch the platform this quarter.

According to the shrewd entrepreneur, the coaching program positioned the business in a sustainability trajectory. The two companies, Mtaji Technologies and Africa Risk Management Advisors, are currently on the right path, offering one seamless bouquet product consisting of a digital financial marketplace and professional services.

In the next three years, he sees his business being at the heart of facilitating intra- Africa trade and taking advantage of the African Free Continental Trade Area opportunities to facilitate trade between and among
African states.

With the digitization of their services, they will be able to operate across the continent with representative offices across Africa, with Nairobi being their headquarters. 

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