KENYA – Facebook, online social media and social networking service company, has launched an initiative to help equip small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) in Kenya with digital skills that will help entrepreneurs grow their businesses in the increasingly digital economy.

According to Business Daily, the initiative dubbed “Boost with Facebook” will train 3,000 entrepreneurs in Nairobi, Kisumu, Nakuru and Mombasa on how to navigate the digital space, increase awareness of their businesses and connect with new customers online.

The US social media giant will work with Wylde International, a local firm that develops businesses. The training which kicks off next week in Nairobi is free and open to any interested SMEs, with Wylde International indicating that the firm had already started receiving applicants.

Facebook Head of Public Policy, East Africa, Mercy Ndegwa, said “We are enabling local businesses to use social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram to unlock new business opportunities and compete at a Pan-African and global level.

“This is a global programme that Facebook runs to arm businesses with the right digital tools to help you increase the visibility and add value to your business and target customers that you would not otherwise have access to.”

SMEs account for about 30 percent of the GDP. The programme targets existing and aspiring business owners.

“Entrepreneurship plays an integral role in driving Kenya’s economy and providing economic opportunities for Kenyans. Globally, we have more than 1.6 billion people connected to small or medium sized businesses on Facebook,” Ms Ndegwa added.

Youth Fund chairman Ronald Osumba, said “The SMEs will be able to instantly have access to a market base of 2.7 billion customers around the world, when they put their business on Facebook.”

“The future of business is online, and this gives the entrepreneurs a chance to learn how to build communities around your business and how to leverage on those communities,” he added.

The launch of Boost with Facebook in Kenya follows launches of similar programmes across Africa including; South Africa, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Cameroon, DRC, Benin and Guinea Conakry, and is another step forward in enabling local businesses to unlock new business opportunities.