Wangechi Muriuki (Left), Country Director IIIA-Kenya, poses for photo with the leaders of the Akiberan Aberu Co. Ltd, when they received funding from the IIA- led  Credit Guarantee scheme.
March 06, 2020

IIA; Empowering Women For Sustainable Economic Development

By bringing the world’s largest excluded group, women, into the economic fold, we could unleash their economic power, thereby spurring robust economic growth, dynamism and ingenuity. This was the message from Christine Lagarde, IMF managing director, at the World Assembly for Women conference in Tokyo held in September 2014.

Women entrepreneurs in Kenya hold untapped potential. Their increased contributions would help Kenya reach its development goals. The forces that constrain women are many, even when they constitute an important social category that is critical in sustainable development. Worldwide, there is a momentum to champion the women’s access to opportunities in order to bridge the glaring gender equality and economic gap.

 

To achieve SDG 1 (No Poverty) in Kenya, there needs to be a concerted effort to support women in business by enhancing their capacity and motivation to participate in economic activities and entrepreneurship. This can be achieved by enhancing their access to not only finances and skills, but to markets for the businesses to be sustainable. This will go a long way in driving the achievement of SDG 5- gender equality, and balanced, inclusive growth.

 

Invest in Africa (IIA), works to increase access to opportunities for women-owned businesses with access to markets, skills and finance, which are the key constraints of SME growth and development, especially for the women-owned SMEs. IIA has partnered with several organizations to provide these key components of business growth. The IIA partnership ecosystem comprises multiple stakeholders including corporates, mentors, business coaches, banks, investors, BMOs, development partners and government agencies, focused on its mission of developing SMEs.

 

IIA-Kenya has impacted women-led businesses in Turkana County, in partnership with Tullow Oil, an IIA partner, by giving them access to local content opportunities in Project Oil Kenya through enhancement of their financial and skills capacity, and formalizing the businesses to make them eligible for trade. Rael Mzee, Director Akiberan Aberu Suppliers, is one of the beneficiaries of this partnership. She received finance worth KShs. 1.3 million from the IIA-Kenya-led Credit Guarantee Scheme which enabled her to deliver to a tender to supply fruits and vegetable to Tullow Oil. Lydia Tioko, Director Loteteilet Company Ltd, a construction company, received 70% finance for a construction tender she won in Project Oil Kenya, through the same scheme.

 

In Kwale County, IIA-Kenya is working with Base Titanium Limited (BTL), a mining company and IIA partner, to promote local business. Josephine Mutiso, Director Biphev Diani Ltd, who received capacity building training from IIA put in a successful bid to supply LPG to BTL. She says, “IIA has equipped me with the necessary business skills to enable me to acquire business compliance and deliver on the available opportunities.” She has so far created 16 new jobs through her various business ventures.

 

Biashara.now, IIA’s online flagship network, enables SMEs to access skills development, markets and financing opportunities and network with each other. Currently the network has over 2500 SMEs.

 

In 2018, IIA-Kenya signed partnership with Stanbic Bank, through their DADA (Dare to Aspire Dare to Achieve) Initiative, to empower women-owned businesses on Biashara.Now through skills development and finance. Stanbic Bank set aside a KShs. 2 billion kitty for women entrepreneurs in Kenya. Through this partnership, 350 women entrepreneurs on Biashara.Now have been trained. IIA, has to date enabled women owned business access more than KShs. 160 million through various partnerships and activities.

 

In 2020, IIA-Kenya is working to having 1,000 women-owned businesses registered on Biashara.Now to enable them to grow sustainably and consistently. This will ensure that the efforts to empower women reaches further and has impact on more businesses. As one of the steps to achieve this, IIA-Kenya signed an MOU with the Organization for Women in Trade- Nairobi Chapter (OWIT-Nairobi) to open more avenues for growth, co-operation, and collaboration to support women in business. The partnership will be built on the successes and lessons of both organisations, coupled with leveraging assets and strategic resources such as the Biashara.Now platform.

 

The inclusion of women in business in Kenya benefits the entire economy and strengthens the incentives for policy action toward gender equality. Every effort should be to make women more productive so that they can create more jobs. There is no point of speaking of unemployment as a challenge, if women are not included in the conversation. IIA is working to unleash the latent economic power in women so that the nation can realize the full potential in them.