Coca-Cola Beverages Africa, Sales and Marketing Director, Josphat Mwangi (left) with Franchise Director, Kenya and Tanzania, Oliver Soto (centre) and Kevin Abunyolo a deliveries rider pose for a photo during the launch of DialACoke at Nairobi bottlers offices in Embakasi.

The Coca-Cola East and Central Africa Franchise Vice President, Debra Mallowah, has urged Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME’s) to focus on building a strong and consistent brand for their businesses even as they navigate through the current tough economic times that have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking during a mentorship session for MSME’s on COVID-19 recovery and resilience organized by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and Mastercard Foundation, Mallowah noted that most MSMEs have been severely affected by the ongoing pandemic and yet they contribute almost 40% to the country’s GDP.  A survey conducted in April 2020 indicated that about 27% of MSMEs had already been forced to stop their operations, while another 44% required working capital financing to survive.

“The past one year has been tough for most MSMEs and a significant number have even gone out of business due to cash flow challenges and poor sales. My message to you is not to let failure define who you are but to let failure teach you. Position yourself as a powerful brand, be consistent and treat every day as a beginning of new possibilities,” said Mallowah.

Mallowah urged the entrepreneurs, especially women, not to fear failure,  noting it as an obstacle that has kept most of them from venturing into business and succeeding.

“Failure is not the opposite of success, but it is part of success, face the challenges head-on and emerge strong and your business will pull through even the toughest of challenges,” she emphasized.

Together with its partners, The Coca-Cola Company has over the last year spent over Kes. 125 million to support 18,000 trading partners, most of who are MSME’s, to recover from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative, code-named  ‘Open Like Never Before,’,  has seen the company’s trade partners who range from distributors to retailers, eateries, dukas, and kiosks, receive various forms of support, ranging from access to financing, provision of Personal Protective Equipment, hand washing jerricans, soap, and sanitizers, garden sets to enable adherence to social distancing – all aimed at ensuring trader and consumer safety as well as compliance with the recommended WHO and government guidelines of controlling the spread of the virus.

Other MSME initiatives that the company has been supporting over the years include ‘Kuza Kazi’ youth empowerment and 5by20 women empowerment programs.

The MSMEs sector plays a significant role in Kenya and contributes about 40% of the country’s GDP. This all-encompassing sector sustains millions of households and provides employment to over 80%  of the workforce especially to women and youth.