President William Ruto, on Friday, May 26, instructed the Principal Secretary for the State Department for MSMEs, Susan Mang'eni, to look into the management of the Kenya Industrial Estates (KIE) after its officials failed to address questions raised by entrepreneurs in Embu.
Ruto hosted entrepreneurs and government officials at a question-and-answer forum when he discovered that one of the agency's senior managers left the forum after appearing a while earlier.
As he sought the indulgence of the manager regarding a question asked by a cottage manufacturer, Tanya Ireri - Ruto was displeased by the senior manager who had gone AWOL (absent without leave).
A visibly disappointed Ruto wondered whether the manager had shown up at the event for the sake of being noticed. He thus pressed for the event organisers to seek the KIE boss to answer Ireri's question on how entrepreneurs can access large-scale loans.
With the move to track the KIE boss proving futile, two delegates from the agency rose in attempts to answer the question. However, Ruto shut them down, arguing they lacked knowledge of their mandate.
"We are here, and our role is to look for the entrepreneurs so that we can be able to assist them," one of the delegates answered, much to Ruto's chagrin.
"You did not answer my question. Tanya is a cottage manufacturer, and Omondi (a local producer) manufactures blocks. They have a shortage of financing. What do they need to do to get help in funding? Maybe the CS can help?" Ruto expressed.
To salvage the situation, PS Mang'eni of the Co-operative Ministry explained that they were working to streamline the agency's operations and address the entrepreneurs' concerns.
"KIE helps entrepreneurs in manufacturing, and we give loans up to Ksh20 million. We are working on a way to ensure that they do not pay any collateral.
"We also have a single interest rate as you have always advocated for. Ours is to reach out to them and ensure that they are part of our development project," the PS responded.
As much as he was pleased with the answer, Ruto cautioned her against the relapse at KIE and publicly asked her to ensure her department is managed effectively.
"Madam PS, you need to up the game of KIE because the gentleman there doesn't seem to know what they are doing," Ruto directed.
At the event, Ruto frequently asked his Cabinet members, including Trade CS Moses Kuria, to respond to questions raised by the business owners.
Occasionally, Ruto asked the officials to give clear answers and timelines on several issues affecting entrepreneurs.
Notable, at the end of the event, Ruto was gifted a bag locally made by Tanya. The entrepreneur also seized the moment to offer Ruto her portfolio, noting that she was seeking a government job.
Ruto toured the Embu ahead of the Madaraka Day celebrations set to be held in the county on Thursday, June 1, 2023.