The 11th Annual SME Conference and Expo opened on a promising note, focusing on critical measures that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can adopt to promote sustainability while diving deep into discussions on enhancing resilience.
These discussions aim to equip SMEs with the tools to fortify themselves against climate crises, which, though often unpredictable, have the potential to inflict severe damage on businesses, especially those within the SME sector.
Held at Strathmore University Business School under the theme ‘Sustainability and Climate Resilience: Creating Opportunities for SMEs,’ the event provides a platform for SMEs to actualize their responses to the climate crisis.
The conference brings together speakers from diverse backgrounds and platforms, with a concentrated focus on elucidating solutions that SMEs can embrace to not only prosper in their respective sectors but also transform the overarching narrative.
It is crucial to recognize that climate change poses a significant threat to businesses across various sectors and geographical regions, transcending the boundaries of selectivity. Businesses, which once primarily prioritized growth and consumer satisfaction, are now pivoting towards the “3 Ps” – People, Profit, and Planet – in their operational ethos.
As President Ruto William aptly stated, addressing the climate crisis necessitates a collective approach that transcends global divisions, unifying stakeholders worldwide.
The urgency of embracing sustainability is underscored, as it presents a pathway to a brighter future. Businesses are urged to harness resources without compromising the ability of future generations to access these essential resources.
Mary Wanjeri Mbugua, Regional Trade Facilitation Office of Economic Growth and Integration, commends the efforts undertaken by climate-conscious SMEs, emphasizing their commendable commitment to environmental preservation.
This commitment extends from sourcing practices to energy-efficient production methods and efficient waste management.
As a part of the Africa Trade and Investment Program, Mary highlights the vital role of SMEs, which globally account for 90% of jobs, often providing employment to one or two individuals.
“These small businesses play a crucial role in completing the broader business value chain,”
She further emphasizes the need for businesses to shift their perception and invest in workshops, forums, and training programs to enhance their knowledge base.
Several of these forward-thinking SMEs, as Mary notes, have received support congruent with their environmental initiatives. One noteworthy example is an enterprise that transforms market waste into organic fertilizers, contributing to waste reduction and environmental sustainability.
Mary advocates for increased collaboration among SMEs, promoting shared learning, growth, and enhanced resilience.
Sustainability cannot be overemphasized; it is a clarion call for all businesses to balance production with safeguarding resources for future generations. By doing so, businesses empower themselves to better withstand the unprecedented challenges posed by climate crises as they seek to grow and thrive.
It is evident that SMEs are striving to maintain equilibrium despite the adversities posed by the climate crisis, compelling them to innovate or risk obsolescence. Innovation, in this context, refers to a shift toward solution-oriented strategies to address the challenges at hand and ensure the long-term viability of businesses.
Mr. Robert Kibara, CEO of HFC Group, dispels the notion that sustainability is inherently expensive. Instead, he portrays it as a strategic investment opportunity, motivating both large and small firms to venture into this space.
He cites the installation of solar panels on their office rooftops as a successful solution, reducing their reliance on expensive traditional power sources.
Mr. Kibara further underscores the importance of a thriving sustainability sector with numerous participants. This, he argues, allows for strategic collaborations that can accelerate action toward sustainability and the development of climate resilience.