By Sofia Ali
Partnership to Boost Product Development for Manufacturers through “SME Connect” Digital Market Linkage
Wednesday, 22nd July 2020, Nairobi. Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) has signed a partnership deal with Ajua, Africa’s first Integrated Customer Experience Company, to drive the uptake of Kenyan made goods and unlock markets for local manufacturers through Ajua’s SME Connect digital platform – a platform that drives feedback through the entire value chain from consumer to manufacturers.
Some of the biggest challenges holding back manufacturers in today’s market include reduced demand for their goods. This has forced up to 42% of manufacturers to cut production to less than half their capacity according to a report by KAM and KPMG. Manufacturers are also struggling to find the necessary tools to understand value chain connections and operate their businesses competitively. As the economy reopens, manufacturers need to quickly identify their key vulnerabilities and establish strong frameworks around their supply chains as they plan for their recovery post-COVID.
The SME Connect digital platform enables manufacturers to not only directly access retailers but also provide them access to feedback that comes from their consumers. This allows them to better enhance their products, market positioning and relevant competitive strategies that are critical for survival in the current market dynamics.
For 61 years, KAM has played an active role in driving fact-based advocacy towards the formation of industrial policies that enhance the competitiveness of local industries in Kenya including access to local, regional and international markets. The Ajua partnership furthers KAM’s objectives of providing market linkages for manufacturers and SME development.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, KAM Chief Executive, Ms. Phyllis Wakiaga noted that market dynamics are shifting as consumers embrace digital platforms to access essentials in the wake of the pandemic.
She further added that, “The uptake of digital marketplaces in Kenya remains low despite its immense benefits. The current pandemic has altered the retail landscape in the country as consumers shift to online platforms to access products. This partnership will therefore promote the uptake of digital platforms by manufacturers to enable them to gain access to local markets and new customers whilst reinventing their business models to align with changing technologies,” remarked Ms. Wakiaga.
Speaking on the value of the SME Connect platform for manufacturers, Ajua’s Executive Vice President, Commercial, Dr. Gilbert Saggia shared, “Manufacturers in emerging markets, particularly Africa struggle to compete with global products. Ajua SME Connect enhances product development by giving manufacturers a platform to close the feedback loop between manufacturers and their customers with real-time customer feedback with high fidelity market data.”
He concluded by saying, “Since the onset of COVID-19 in Kenya, SMEs have struggled with cash flow, with up to 63% of SMEs reporting losses. To facilitate the reopening of our markets in the midst of this challenge, Ajua’s SME Connect can enable SMEs to access credit facilities from financial institutions in addition to giving them access to actionable real-time customer feedback