Eunice Muthoni Kimani: Empowering MSMEs in Agriculture to Combat Climate Change

Eunice Muthoni Kimani, Head of entrepreneurial programmes at Strathmore University Business School, firmly believes that Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) play a crucial role in combating climate change.

Drawing from her personal experience growing up in a farming family and witnessing the detrimental effects of climate change on agriculture, Eunice has developed a strong passion for supporting MSMEs in the agricultural sector.

Muthoni’s dedication to empowering farmers led her to work with World Vision in the rural areas of the Rift Valley. Through their “farming as a business” training program, she specifically focused on empowering women farmers who relied on agriculture for their families’ livelihoods. Eunice successfully empowered over 3,000 women in western Kenya through this program.

She highlights the unpredictable weather patterns caused by climate change, posing a significant threat to agri-preneurs. She emphasizes the urgent need for effective mitigation and adaptation strategies to ensure sustainable agricultural production, especially the MSMEs empowerment to adapt.

Reflecting on her parents’ farming practices, Muthoni acknowledges that farming used to be productive without the use of fertilizers. Moreover, she believes that today’s agri-preneurs are more educated and engaged in more sophisticated agricultural practices focused on generating profits. She takes pride in the success of the farmers she has trained, some of whom have even started exporting their products.

While celebrating her accomplishments in impacting 12,000 MSMEs through business management and entrepreneurial training, Eunice acknowledges the challenges faced by these enterprises. Access to affordable funding and managerial skills remains a significant obstacle. As a practitioner and intermediary between MSMEs and potential funders, she emphasizes the importance of entrepreneurial training and business growth for their success.

Muthoni also points out the difficulties MSMEs face in accessing financing due to cumbersome processes and expensive loans. She believes that there is a significant gap in financial access and inclusion in East Africa, which puts MSMEs at a disadvantage and hampers their growth.

“Having been in this field for years, I can proudly say that I have impacted 12,000 MSMEs through business management and entrepreneurial training. However, one of the challenges I face is convincing MSMEs to invest in training and mentorships that can further enhance their expertise,” said Eunice Muthoni.

She emphasizes that MSMEs struggle to access financing due to tedious processes and high loan costs. Eunice explains that financial institutions cannot prioritize selling a development partner’s loan at a lower interest rate than their own products, as this would undermine their business.

“There is a clear gap in financial access and inclusion in East Africa, which leaves MSMEs, the largest employers, at a disadvantage and hinders their growth,” said Muthoni.

Muthoni’s passion for empowering MSMEs in agriculture to combat climate change shines through. Her experiences and expertise highlight the importance of supporting these enterprises and addressing the challenges they face in order to create a sustainable future.

11th Annual SME conference and EXPO Strathmore University Business School

Eunice Muthoni as an MSMEs supporter has hosted the last ten annual SME conferences and envisions greater achievements in this year’s conference considering a theme that’s new, especially in the SME space. With over 10 years of hosting, over 400 MSMEs with about 60 of them exhibiting are expected in this conference cum Expo.

This 11th conference is themed “Sustainability and Climate Resilience’ with a focus on creating Opportunities for SMEs”. Through the conference, it’s anticipated that enterprises can mitigate environmental risks unlock new business opportunities, and enhance their overall sustainability and viability in the long run.

SMEs if enabled can speed up climate action responses through building sustainable business models, sustainability practices, and building resilience to climate change.

One of the major aims is to shift the narrative from viewing sustainability and climate resilience as mere burdens for compliance requirements to recognizing them as powerful drivers of innovation, competitive advantage, economic growth, and societal impact.

Muthoni emphasizes that for the government to achieve the going green expedition the MSMEs have to be involved, empowered, and fully engaged.

“They have a wider range and they can become great ambassadors of climate resilience and sustainability if they are supported and empowered,” said Eunice.

She further urges for a shift from the perception that MSMEs are risky to viewing them for what they are that is, job creators, and agents of change we want to see in our African continent.

Having been in the space for more than a decade now, she reveals her dream of a day when there will be a support system that is fully inclusive for SMEs.

“I believe that a day will come when we will see the establishment of an MSME Fund Centre which shall be a one-stop-shop for SME Financing and Capacity building interventions,” added Eunice.

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