At least 20,000 women in 12 counties in Kenya are set to benefit from a new entrepreneurship deal just signed by SNV and Women Enterprise Fund (WEF). Under a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations, SNV will provide training to women entrepreneurs on marketing and finance, before they take up loans to start or boost their businesses.

WEF will roll out funds to eligible entrepreneurs who have been trained by SNV, and both WEF and SNV will facilitate market linkages for women-owned enterprises through events such as trade fairs. “This partnership will tremendously unlock the potential of women and enable them to take charge of their businesses and financial affairs effectively,” said WEF chair Mumina Bonaya.

The deal is part of the Enhancing Opportunities for Womens Enterprise (EOWE) programme which aims to empower women entrepreneurs especially in the agriculture and renewable energy sectors in Kenya and in Vietnam. “Our experience shows that funding is not enough. Women entrepreneurs need to be well trained to be able to manage the funds, be accountable and competitive in their production and marketing,” said Ms Bonaya.  The project will help women to form cooperative societies and Saccos, and it is also expected to help increase the number of women seeking funds for their businesses.

Women enterprises in Samburu, Narok, Kajiado, Laikipia, Isiolo, Marsabit, Baringo, Kitui, Machakos, Makueni, Taita Taveta and Wajir counties will be supported, and SNV aims to forge partnerships with other county governments in Kenya.

The EOWE programme aims to advance women’s economic participation and self-reliance in Kenya and Vietnam by creating a conducive environment for female entrepreneurship as a vehicle of change. While rates of female entrepreneurship are relatively high in both countries, these businesses are often informal, tend to underperform and have a high risk of failure. The main explanation for the underperformance is limited capacity, including financial literacy, access to credit and business assets, control over income and other resources, and leadership skills and confidence. The project, which is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and implemented between 2016 and 2020, is built on the opportunities to be found in strengthening women’s entrepreneurship and improving their access to inputs and business assets in the agribusiness sector.