February 9, 2019/AfDB
A third round of two-week masterclasses on entrepreneurship, business development and financial management for women entrepreneurs organized by the African Development Bank in partnership with Entreprenarium, kicked off Thursday in Kenya, under the Bank’s flagship Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) program.
Two hundred Kenyan women entrepreneurs, who pre-qualified through an online process, were selected to attend the masterclasses. Entreprenarium specializes in providing business support and access to finance for women and young entrepreneurs across Africa.
The training is part of the Bank’s drive to support over 1,000 women entrepreneurs in Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Kenya, South Africa and Tunisia. In West and Central Africa, training sessions in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire and Libreville, Gabon were held in December 2018, and applications for financing are currently under review to support the most promising projects.”
“This initiative is critical in that it will strengthen women’s entrepreneurship in Africa by unlocking networking, coaching and mentoring opportunities for women-owned or -led small and medium-sized enterprises,” said Gabriel Negatu, the African Development Bank’s Director General for the East Africa region.
The Bank’s Country Gender Note for Kenya, produced in 2017, highlights that Kenya has the highest rate of female participation in enterprise ownership in East Africa, at 48.7 percent. Women own almost half of the 1.3 million micro-small-and medium-size enterprises (MSMEs) in Kenya, with 85 percent of female-owned MSME’s in the informal sector, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. In the agricultural sector, women constitute a major force, managing more than 40 percent of all smallholder farms in the country.
Yet, women entrepreneurs still face major constraints limiting their access to finance, including lack of access to resources and some socio-cultural norms. The main source of capital for businesses remain family or own funds, the statistics Bureau report said.
“Women entrepreneurs in Kenya represent an important part of the country’s business owners, yet most of them are doing it in an informal way. That is why we developed this program which contributes to building their financial autonomy in a sustainable way,” remarked Frédéric Ngirabacu, Entreprenarium’s Chief Operating Officer.
In addition to implementing its AFAWA program, the Bank’s support for women entrepreneurs includes initiatives such as recognizing the role women play in agriculture, and funding the “50 Million Women Speak” and Fashionomics networking platforms.