MSMEs’ Contribution to Climate Change and Adaptation in Kenya

 From a recent event organized by ICRAF, I gathered the following nuggets of wisdom as an entrepreneurial advocate who engages with MSMEs on a regular.

‘’ We are Drowning in information and starving for knowledge (Rutherford Rogers). ’’ Is Information Power?

Kenya is a diverse country with different climatic conditions in different geographical areas. The climate conditions in the coastal region are very different from the Rift Valley and so is the situation between the eastern region and central region.

Each region, however, has its own unique wealth and natural resources. Each region has unique weather patterns and agricultural products that grow at different times. Kenya is indeed blessed. I am proud to be Kenyan !.

As we face the current challenge of climate change, Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) need to be supported since they are the true ambassadors of climate resilience. MSMEs play a critical role in Kenya’s economy, accounting for a significant portion of employment and GDP. Beyond their economic impact, MSMEs are increasingly becoming pivotal in addressing climate change and fostering adaptation strategies. I love working with MSMEs!

In Kenya, where climate change poses significant risks to agriculture, water resources, and livelihoods, the proactive engagement of MSMEs in climate action is essential. Recently we have seen the drowning challenge that has swept the land, homes, and lives. I recently spoke to families that were affected, it is evident that most of them are MSMEs, especially in the informal settlement and they have lost their livelihoods.

Climate change is a topic that has not been well understood by most MSMEs, speaking to a few of them in the rural areas, and challenging them to plant trees, they ask whether they will be able to have an income from trees and what about the time trees will grow to be commercially viable. I got the point and sympathized, I could reason the same!

The land has become too expensive and small; the smallholder farmers would go for horticultural practices that give them quick harvest and hence quick money than growing trees that will take longer to give returns on investment.

There is therefore need for the Government, private sector, development partners, and academic institutions to create awareness and provide the necessary education and support needed to have a buy-in of the smallholder farmers to grow trees and hence contribute to climate adaptation and mitigation.

Afforestation is the way to go, and this will only succeed if farmers in the rural parts of Kenya embrace the initiative because they own land.

SICK Trees Vs Human Health.

The more women and children in the rural parts interact with sick trees such as Fungi infected, the more they contract incurable diseases.

Some apps are available for the pieces of information needed by smallholder farmers such as the Jazs app, Matunda app, and Karlo app, but rarely do smallholder farmers visit those sites. The climate change stakeholders therefore need to go to the farmers and make efforts to reach the furthest Farmer. Yes, the furthest smallholder farmer!

‘We are drowning in information and starving for Knowledge. Let us transfer Knowledge. ’

The Information overload from research heavily sponsored by development partners can be utilized well by those starving for knowledge.

MSMEs Contribution to Climate Change Mitigation

 Adoption of Green Technologies

A significant number of MSMEs in Kenya are increasingly adopting green technologies to reduce their carbon footprint. From solar power installations to energy-efficient machinery, these enterprises are contributing to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. For instance, businesses in the agricultural sector are using solar-powered irrigation systems, which not only cut down on emissions but also lower energy costs.

Waste Management and Recycling

A significant number of Kenyan MSMEs are also making strides in waste management and recycling. Enterprises involved in waste collection, segregation, and recycling help mitigate the impact of waste on the environment. Companies like EcoPost, which recycles plastic waste into sustainable building materials, are leading examples of how MSMEs can turn environmental challenges into business opportunities.

Sustainable Practices in Agriculture

Agriculture, the backbone of Kenya’s economy, is highly vulnerable to climate change. MSMEs in the agricultural sector are adopting sustainable practices such as organic farming, agroforestry, and conservation agriculture. These practices help sequester carbon, improve soil health, and enhance biodiversity, thereby contributing to climate change mitigation.

MSME Adaptation to Climate Change

 Climate-Resilient Products and Services

MSMEs are innovating to develop products and services that help communities adapt to climate change. For example, companies are producing drought-resistant seeds and promoting crop diversification to ensure food security even during adverse weather conditions. Additionally, MSMEs in the water sector are developing solutions for water harvesting and efficient water use to cope with water scarcity.

Trees for Charcoal

Some MSMEs are involved in cutting down trees to make charcoal. This activity is primarily driven by the need for income and livelihoods, especially among smallholder farmers and businesses in rural and semi-urban areas.

These farmers often prioritize quick returns from activities like charcoal production over long-term investments such as tree planting, which take longer to become commercially viable.

Reducing the dependence on charcoal for energy

The solution to the reduction of charcoal energy dependence involves providing alternative sources of income for those who cut down trees to burn charcoal and offering alternative sources of energy for MSMEs that depend on charcoal as the primary source of energy. The government, private sector, development partners, and academic institutions should focus on raising awareness, educating smallholder farmers, and supporting them in adopting sustainable practices such as afforestation and agroforestry. Additionally, promoting the use of green technologies like solar power and energy-efficient machinery to help reduce reliance on charcoal and mitigate climate change impacts.

Role MSMEs play in recovering Degraded landmass

MSMEs play a significant role in recovering degraded landmasses through various sustainable practices. They are adopting green technologies, engaging in waste management and recycling, and implementing sustainable agricultural practices such as organic farming, agroforestry, and conservation agriculture.

Capacity Building and Education

Capacity-building initiatives and educational programs led by institutions like Strathmore University Business School further empower MSMEs to adopt and promote climate-smart practices, aiding in land restoration and climate resilience

Educational programs are crucial for disseminating knowledge about climate change adaptation strategies, thereby empowering individuals and businesses to make informed decisions. Strathmore University Business School is on the front line in capacity building for MSMEs involved in agribusiness. The programs have been a game changer for most of the farmers in various value chains.

Challenges and Opportunities

Despite their contributions, MSMEs in Kenya face significant challenges in scaling up their climate action efforts. Limited access to finance, inadequate infrastructure, and lack of technical expertise are major barriers. However, these challenges also present opportunities for growth and innovation.

Public-Private Partnerships

Collaboration between the public and private sectors can drive the development and implementation of climate adaptation strategies. Public-private partnerships can facilitate knowledge transfer, improve infrastructure, and create an enabling environment for MSMEs to thrive.

Technological Innovation

Leveraging technological advancements is crucial for MSMEs to enhance their climate resilience. Investment in research and development can lead to the creation of new, climate-resilient products and services, thereby expanding the market and impact of Kenyan MSMEs.

MSMEs in Kenya are at the forefront of climate change mitigation and adaptation. By addressing the challenges they face and harnessing available opportunities, Kenyan MSMEs can further amplify their contribution to climate action, ensuring sustainable economic growth and resilience for the future. MSMEs are indeed the ambassadors of climate change.

Article by Eunice Muthoni Kimani

Head, Entrepreneurial Programmes

Strathmore University Business School

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