The modern woman from all walks of life is proving that as much as her work in entrepreneurship has often been under appreciated, all she ever needed was a push in the right direction and she’ll be on fire.
As per the Kenyan National Bureau of Statistics, women and youth comprise over 70% of the population. And yet despite this, they continue to face varied challenges as they pursue social economic empowerment, one of the biggest of them being lack of capital to start and operate businesses. There is also lack of knowledge on how to standardize and improve quality of their products to maximize profits. Considering that most of the businesses that women are getting into require a lot of the above, it is clear to see that a lack of the same is a big disadvantage.
We’re looking at ventures like vegetable oil processing, soap and detergents making, water purification and bottling, milk and yoghurt processing, aquarium making for sale, honey processing, making of hides and skins products, processing of horticultural produce, and even making of construction materials like tiles, bricks and ventilation blocks.
All is not doom and gloom though. In the last few decades and more so in recent years, women empowerment has been on top gear and the fruits of this are there for all to see. Every single day, women around the world attend to their families, their farms and their businesses with such zeal and tenacity. They’re moving neck to neck with their more socially and economically advantaged male counterparts and as it is now, nearly 50% of SMEs in the country are owned by women.
It is with this in mind that the Women Enterprise Fund (WEF) is collaborating with Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and other organizations to provide support for women running small and medium-sized business to standardize and improve the quality of their products.
The partnerships range all the way from training women on how to improve their products to not just meet industry standards, but also to qualify for the KEBS Diamond mark of quality which allows them to access local and international markets. One of the most significant steps that WEF has taken towards this is to subsidize certification application fees whereby the rate falls to Kshs.5,800/-.
So far 13,500 women have been trained on product improvement and earlier in the year, WEF and Coca-Cola Central, East and West Africa Limited announced that a further 285,000 Kenyan women will be empowered in their joint economic empowerment program. Participants in the program receive business skills training, financial services, as well as access to peer networks through a business club for mentoring and ideas sharing. In 2018, the initiative stepped in for 161,000 Kenyan women.
Women Enterprise Fund is a Semi-Autonomous Government agency mandated to empower women in line with Vision 2030 and Sustainable Development Goal number 5 on gender equality and women empowerment. Since 2012, WEF has disbursed over Kshs.150 Million to fund women owned SMEs, and this amount is expected to increase significantly as more and more women join the entrepreneurship bandwagon.