Factors influencing performance of youth owned small and medium enterprises. A case of Maara sub-county; Tharaka-nithi county; Kenya
Small and Medium enterprises (SMEs) contribution to the Kenyan economy is widely acknowledged, they cut across all sectors of the economy and provide many employment opportunities and generate widespread economic benefits. Youth owned Small and Medium Enterprises are faced with several challenges in their operations. SMEs face a mixture of success and failure with past statistics indicating that three out five fail within the first few months of operation The purpose of this study was to investigate factors influencing the performance of youth owned Small and Medium Enterprises in Maara sub-county; Tharaka-Nithi county. The objectives of the study include: establishing the influence of entrepreneurship training on the performance of youth owned SMEs; examining how access to credit facilities influences performance of youth owned Small and medium Enterprises; establish how access to market influences the performance of the youth owned SMEs and determine how business competition influences the performance of the youth owned SMEs. To achieve this, the study adopted descriptive research design where the respondents were requested to describe the circumstances facing their business operations. The target population of the study was 230 youth owned Small and Medium Enterprises within Maara sub-county Tharaka –Nithi County. The sample size was 147 youth owned small and medium enterprises. Purposive sampling was used to identify 230 youth owned SMEs in Maara sub-county which were operating SMEs at the time of the study. The youth owned small and Medium Enterprises was then be clustered into five clusters. A semi structured questionnaire was used in data collection. The completed questionnaires were coded, entered into SPSS and presented using frequency tables and percentages. The study concludes that entrepreneurship training, access to credit, access to market and business competition the performance of youth owned enterprises. The study also established that entrepreneurship training affected the performance of the enterprises. Access to credit facilities influenced performance youth enterprises to a great extent. Business Competition determines the performance of the youth owned enterprises because of its effects on the ability of the businesses to cover their operational costs. Further access to market influences the performance of the youth enterprises due to the fact that many a times the youth have limited or no access to timely, simplified, production technology and government regulations they are unable to perform and survive in the fast changing, increasingly globalized and highly competitive environment. This study recommended that the youth entrepreneurs be trained on entrepreneurship skills including business management and the general reputation, acceptance and credibility of entrepreneurs in society would help to overcome these challenge. The study further recommended that Microfinance institutions continuously engage the youth entrepreneurs in providing finance and entrepreneurial knowledge to the poor in the society as this would lead to creation of jobs and reduced poverty levels in a country. The study also recommended that the Government provides more space for entrepreneurs to work from. The study finally recommends that more cheaper and efficient marketing strategies be advocated among youth entrepreneurs to improve their reach to their customers.