A positive business environment can help reduce unemployment and poverty by establishing the conditions that encourage businesses to invest more, create new jobs and support people to start their own businesses.
Kenya is one of the world’s most unequal societies in terms of income disparity and unemployment. This is especially pronounced among young people, nearly three quarters of whom are unemployed.
The Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) established the Business Advocacy Fund (BAF) in 2006 with the objective of catalysing a better business environment in Kenya. Tetra Tech designed the Fund and managed it for more than 10 years.
The Fund worked with business membership organisations (BMOs) and civil society groups to identify policies and laws that constrain members’ businesses. It then provided funding, training and mentoring to BMOs to research the issues, developed new policies and regulatory changes to overcome the problems, and talked to Government to advocate for these improvements.
Once changes were enacted, BAF provided further support to BMOs to monitor delivery of the changes in practice and assess whether member businesses respond positively to the new environment. BAF also delivered media training to these organisations, allowing them to generate better publicity for their advocacy positions.
Danish International Development Agency
BAF achieved significant results across multiple initiatives:
Improving public-private dialogue
BMOs were commonly invited by Government to consult on business matters or they had the confidence to initiate dialogue themselves. This has directly resulted in over 140 reforms and increased the quantity and quality of media coverage of these issues.
Reducing red tape
BAF has helped to lobby the government to revise policies and regulations that burden businesses with unnecessary costs. For example, the Matatu Owners’ Association advocated for 14 seater Matatus (mini-buses) to remain operational and be phased out over time, rather than immediately, as had been proposed. This reduced the financial impact on operators of selling vehicles with zero value and buying new vehicles.
Supporting devolved interests
Since Kenyan devolution in 2013, BAF has helped to establish dialogue platforms known as Governors’ Round Tables (GRTs) in 36 counties. These were platforms through which local business and County Administrations could work together to embed the interests of investment and jobs in local policies, plans and budgets.
BAF supported BMOs to provide constructive, evidence-based input to the Government position at the COP21 Paris Climate Change Conference. BMOs also advocated the private sector’s position on the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) Regulations on waste water, which was accepted and approved for implementation.
Increasing female participation
A BAF-organised coalition led the advocacy programme that resulted in the approval and adoption of the European Partnership Agreement and the African Growth Opportunity Act. These safeguarded and secured employment for thousands of women, particularly in the textile, horticultural and cut-flower sectors.
Advocacy by BMOs resulted in improved regulation of e-commerce in Kenya. As a result of lobbying by the Kenya ICT Forum, the Government passed the Kenya Communications (Amendment) Act 2008 to make online transactions legally binding and valid as evidence in a court of law.
“The Business Advocacy Fund (BAF) was instrumental in the formation of the Agricultural Industry Network (AIN) in 2013. Over the the past years, AIN has received BAF technical and financial support for capacity building, advocacy and network projects in order to facilitate consultancy, training and the Board and BMO members’ meetings. With the support of BAF, AIN has been more effective in rendering the desired advocacy campaigns for all the BMOs in the agricultural sector in Kenya.”
Edward K. Mudibo
Chairman of the Agricultural Industry Network
“BAF supported the Institution of Surveyors of Kenya (ISK) with an advocacy grant, advice and mentoring, resulting in us partnering with Nairobi County Government, Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nairobi) and the Ruaraka Business Community to develop the Nairobi Solid Waste Management Act to address the daunting challenge of waste management in Nairobi. Together, we developed regulations that lead to a cleaner and greener Nairobi.”
Chief Executive Officer, Institution of Surveyors of Kenya
Positive business changes
The Business Advocacy Fund has worked with more than 300 BMOs, bringing about more than 200 positive business changes in national and local legislation and policy that directly impact the business community.
BMOs with increased revenue
26 BMOs have increased the revenue they earn through the delivery of services to members and non-members, as a result of strengthening efforts supported by BAF.