Kenya: Rooting women into enterprise

19 Mar 2010

24 women graduated with certificates following a 10 day intensive workshop organised to promote women in business and investment in Kenya through capacity development support.(Photo:UNDP)
A Swahili word that means "to prosper", "Fanikisha" sums up the success of a joint project that aims to promote women in business and investment in Kenya through capacity development and access to finance. Fanikisha is run by the Ministry of Trade, in collaboration with UNDP and Kenya’s Equity Bank.

Juliet Gathoni Kimemia is one of the 24 women who recently graduated from a Fanikisha training session. Budding businesswomen are trained in seminars organised by UNDP. So Far 14 sessions have been held across the country. The women are trained in all aspects of business management, with preparation of business plans as one of the major topics. These sessions are facilitated in the presence of representatives of Equity Bank, the financial partner for this project. This ensures that the plans developed in the training can be honored by the Bank.

A Master of Science in Entrepreneurship graduate, Juliet has had a long history of mobilizing women under her Catholic Mission. She is currently running a transport enterprise that offers secure and personalized transport services to three schools in her area of residence. She obtained a loan to purchase an additional school bus in 2008 under her Fanikisha bank account with the Equity Bank.

Since the project was initiated, 713 women have been mobilised into the project. However, not all have been trained as this is an ongoing progress.  144 women entrepreneurs have been trained between 2009 and early this year.

Women make up the largest percentage of Kenya’s 38.3 million population, yet they   have the least access to credit. They face challenges such as the lack of relevant skills and knowledge on how to run a business. This is a contributing factor to the poverty ratio that stands at 45.9%, according to UNDP statistics.  Fanikisha was established to help reduce the high levels of poverty among women, by empowering them to get more involved in running enterprise as a poverty eradication mechanism.

The capacity development component is provided through the expertise of UNDP in Kenya and the private sector. The financial component is an exclusive domain of Equity Bank which offers easy access and affordable loans for small, medium and large women's enterprises. About 350 women have accessed loans for business. Since the project seeks to promote women in medium and large enterprises, the minimum amount that can be borrowed is $13,500 (Kenya Shillings 1 million) .

So far $ 5.4 million (Kenya Shillings 400 million) has been disbursed as loans to 300 women.