What you need to know:
- WomenWork in partnership with MasterCard Foundation launched a program to offer emergency loans and business expertise to women entrepreneurs.
- The loans are aimed at assisting those whose businesses have disproportionately been affected by Covid-19.
- Kenya will receive Sh1.5 billion for the program to facilitate business continuity for enterprises with less than 10 employees and a turn-over below Sh500,000.
Women in business and employment have been the hardest hit by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy.
In June, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) released data showing that more than 50 per cent of working women have been rendered jobless by the pandemic.
However, women in business, in the country, can now have a sigh of relief after WomenWork in partnership with MasterCard Foundation launched a program to offer emergency loans and business expertise to women entrepreneurs.
The loans are aimed at assisting those whose businesses have disproportionately been affected by the pandemic.
In May, the government confirmed that indeed, women had been adversely affected economically by the Covid-19 pandemic compared to their male counterparts.
Public Service, Youth and Gender Cabinet Secretary Prof Margaret Kobia, in a television interview, indicated that 60 per cent of people who have lost their jobs are women.
“The crisis has affected women with many of them working in the informal sector losing their businesses and jobs,” she said
The program, which is part of the MasterCard Foundation Covid-19 recovery and resilience project. The organisation is working with Grassroots Business Fund and 4G Capital.
Kenya will receive Sh1.5 billion for the program and this will facilitate business continuity for enterprises with less than 10 employees and a turn-over below Sh500,000.
Apart from the private entities, the government has rolled out programs aimed at lifting women entrepreneurs in the country.
In the Budget Statement presented to the nation by National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani in June, the CS set aside Sh3 billion for the Credit Guarantee Scheme, which will allow for provision of affordable credit to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
“To support the recovery and growth of MSMEs through various interventions including operationalization of the Credit Guarantee Scheme and further expand opportunities for them, the government will gazette and enforce the list of items to promote the ‘Buy Kenya, Build Kenya’,” said Mr Yatani.
Women in manufacturing also won with the government announcing it will champion the ‘Buy Kenya, Build Kenya’ by supporting local companies.
To ensure the growth and sustainability of enterprises owned by women, youth and persons living with disabilities, the National Treasury re-engineered the Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) portal to enable real-time registration and transparent monitoring of the implementation of the scheme.
Mr Yatani added that the system has been linked to other government institutions including Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), National Council for Persons with Disability, Registrar of Companies and IFMIS to facilitate faster verification and reporting.
“The National Treasury directed all procuring entities to ensure prompt payment for all contracts performed by these target groups,” said the CS.
Economies of scale
To ensure that women manufacturers get back on their feet in the wake of the pandemic, the Chairperson of Women in Manufacturing Kenya Ms Flora Mutahi recently urged the government to bring down imports comprising goods also manufactured locally to encourage Buy Kenya Build Kenya slogan and at the same time provide ample market to manufacturers in the country.
She urged women in the manufacturing industry to formalise their businesses as it will enable them trade with the government and other big customers.
“Government needs to make the formalization process efficient for ease of doing business in the country. This will give SMEs an opportunity to access local markets as well as supply the government. This will enable them to grow because of economies of scale,” she said.
Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK) president Mugure Njendu in June, said it was time Kenya considered an economic stimulus package for companies facing closure due to a Covid-19 related economic slump.
“Bailout loans should be offered at favourable rates and terms that are not stringent particularly to those businesses that employ a lot of Kenyans,” she said.