Tourism SMEs Program

SMEs Stabilization and Acceleration


STTA and University of Brighton has partnered to support sustainability and resilience of tourism MSMEs in Kenya in the wake of the significant impacts of covid-19 pandemic on travel and tourism. The partnership builds capacity of tourism MSMEs in Kenya, under the membership of Tour Operators Society of Kenya (TOSK), to adapt to changing situations while supporting creation of sustainable tourism value chains that favor progressive MSMEs growth. Together, STTA and the University of Brighton have been holding sustainable tourism webinars, carrying out research and sourcing for funding for the benefit of tourism MSMEs in Kenya.

Support Tools

Customized Webinars

Webinar outline

  • Crisis in perspective
  • Introduction to crisis communication
  • Communication steps for improving responses

Webinar outline

  • Crisis and risk responses
  • Risk proofing and resilience building for tourism business

Webinar outline

  • What does restart mean?
  • Emerging indicators for a restart
  • Road map to a restart

Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Survey

In collaboration with the University of Brighton and with the support of TOSK, STTA carried out a survey to understand the challenges of tourism MSMEs in Kenya pre covid-19 and during covid-19. The aim of the survey was to understand challenges faced by tourism MSMEs Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) in Kenya and how these challenges affected their ability to withstand and adapt to changing situations in tourism, including shocks like covid-19. The survey was carried out from July 2020 and the report expected to be released in November 2020. Findings from the survey will be used to design resilience and sustainability support programs that will benefit tourism MSMEs under the membership of Tour Operator Society of Kenya (TOSK).

Customized Trainings

We offer customised training for SMEs directly and through partnerships to build capacity for resilience. Areas of interest include sustainable tourism strategy, market access, product development, online presence, and communication among others. In 2019, through a partnership with CBI- Netherlands, we offered customised training to 120 SMEs in Kenya on Market Access, with focus on how to access European consumers. These SMEs are now in the CBI database and can access more training material.

Program Impacts Timeline

Before the COVID19 pandemic took us all by surprise, our partnership with the Tourism Operators Society of Kenya (TOSK) – an association of tourism MSMEs, was primarily about building their capacity to embrace sustainability.

Our initial engagement was perceived as an upfront to mainstream tourism. This was a clear signal that new entrants in tourism, especially MSMEs, have an uphill task in breaking ceilings to transition into medium and large enterprises.

We organised several workshops for TOSK members and received support from CBI Netherlands for training on Market access amongst many other things.

Then the COVID19 pandemic happened and tourism was crippled. Many MSMEs were shattered, and it is widely acknowledged that many may never recover. The magnitude of challenges faced by MSMEs in Africa was brought to the fore as industry came to terms with short- and long-term impacts of the pandemic. VoyagesAfriq Media was in the forefront of championing debates that raised the plight of MSMEs, which was featured in many discussions, with responses starting to emerge from African governments.

Our immediate response to the pandemic became focused on MSMEs, because that is where our support was most needed. We started organising a series of ad-hoc webinars to advise MSMEs on crisis framing and became their risk plan and risk department.

Our effort was strengthen through a partnership with the University of Brighton Responsible Futures Agenda and the Centre for Change, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management (CENTRIM). In April 2020, we co-constructed a programme of 3 webinars for TOSK members and a detailed survey aimed at seeking clarity over MSMEs’ specific characteristics, their challenges and opportunities.

Born out of a shared commitment to sustainable and responsible tourism development in Africa, this partnership has brought so far many tangible results, with lasting effects beyond the COVID19 crisis.

The partnership enabled internal and external capacity building. While 4 of our STTA team members gained further skills on advanced research methods and mentorship practices, 177 MSMEs were trained on market access, crisis communication, crisis responses, and techniques for resilience building to date. In addition to this, 120 SMEs trained on market access, with focus on European consumers. See TOSK testimonial on impact of partnership with STTA

What does this program mean for MSMEs?

• MSMEs’ recognition by government – TOSK received full registration status as an industry membership association by the State Department for Tourism in Kenya in June 2020. They had been on provisional registration status pending fulfilment of specific requirements which the acceleration program helped them to achieve.

• In May 2020, TOSK was invited to contribute to the national taskforce on COVID19 protocols. In addition, they were asked to share their own recommendations based on members operations. As a result of the on-going work and the mentioned survey conducted in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Brighton, STTA supported TOSK executive in formulating a response and delivering on this task.

• MSMEs have embraced sustainability practice through affordable online training programs. Since launching the virtual trainings in August 2020, STTA has trained representatives of MSMEs organisation not only in Kenya, but also from across the globe and several other MSMEs.

• Kenyan MSMEs are now able to access economic stimulus packages. TOSK continues to engage the Kenyan agency charged with disbursement of COVID19 relief funds to lobby for support for members.

• Product diversification – TOSK continues to be engaged by the destination marketing agency to explore new products and experiences. They have been supported in exploring ‘paths least travelled’, without relying on their own limited funds to do this.

• MSMEs have been empowered and their ability to negotiate and better communicate their needs has been enhanced through the partnerships with relevant national and international stakeholders supporting of their cause.

Before the crisis, we didn’t envision our MSMEs’ acceleration program being of relevance beyond Kenya and our partnership with University of Brighton, enabled us to exchange knowledge about the broader COVID19 crisis and identify additional priorities, which needs to be addressed in other parts of the continent, with great relevance to the European context to.

The next step is to scale up this initiative through mutually beneficial partnerships that will support innovative sustainable and responsible tourism interventions post-COVID19 and beyond.

Update – 23rd November 2020

Training Tourism MSMEs at the Coast of Kenya on responsible hosting

Program Partners