SMEs May Have Their Stock Exchange

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September 17, 2011
Stock exchange in kenyaAn exclusive stock market for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with flexible listing rules could be in place by January next year. The proposed stock market is expected to open access to capital for the SME sector, raising savings and investments through additional listings in the stock exchange in Kenya.

Speaking at a forum to discuss the proposed market in Nairobi on Wednesday, Capital Markets Authority chief executive Stella Kilonzo, felt that access to funding was the biggest challenge that the SMEs faced. “Access to funding and high cost of finance through the traditional channels have been major constraints to SMEs. Hence the need to explore alternatives”, she said and added that the introduction of an SME market is in line with the government’s policy on SMEs. SME sector is considered to be a key driver of the Vision 2030 economic blueprint which believes that SMEs would play an effective role in economic growth.

She disclosed that SMEs are responsible for about 80 per cent of the employment and contribute to 40 per cent of the gross domestic product in Kenya, hence making them an integral part of the country’s economy. Stella Kilonzo asked the participants at the forum to share ideas so that they would help in amending the existing laws to support further development of the capital market.

Some proposals that came up for the new stock market include lower listing and trading fees with considerations to be made on how the fees are to be reduced within the sector. A new process for listing and offering will also be factored in. If the SMEs get on to the Nairobi Stock Exchange, then it is likely to help them to raise funds either through a rights issue or through corporate bonds, instead of selling shares to the public at the time of the listing.

It was also proposed that a new regulatory environment will be determined, with amendments to the regulatory framework to allow SMEs to raise capital in an environment that is conducive to them. The CMA chief executive also asked the stakeholders to consider if it would be better to attract both individual and institutional investors to the market to have diverse shareholders.

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