Absa Bank Kenya partners with GIZ to empower women entrepreneurs

ReadytoWork is a pan Africa initiative by Absa Group aimed at helping young people build skills to make the critical transition from education to work.

Absa Bank Kenya, in collaboration with the German Development Cooperation have launched a KES 50 Million program aimed at increasing growth and competitiveness of 1,500 women-owned Micro, Small and Medium Businesses impacted by the Covid-19 economic situation, through blended finance and business development services capacity building.

The partnership is under the Employment and Skills for Development in Africa (E4D) Programme commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and Absa Bank Kenya.

 Dubbed SHE Stars, the project will offer a business skills training for the 1500 female entrepreneurs running small businesses in various sectors of the economy that have been negatively affected by the current Covid-19 pandemic. Adopting holistic face-to-face training, online sessions and workshops; the program aims to address business gaps and training needs that women entrepreneurs face, such as inadequate access to finance, mentorship, information and markets. The analysis of the business impacts of Covid-19 and the development of coping and adaptation measures will be specifically targeted.

Speaking during the launch of the partnership, Absa Bank’s Business Banking Director Elizabeth Wasunna said: “Absa Bank is committed to making financial services more accessible and improving financial literacy among women entrepreneurs. We are exploring possibilities that would reduce inequalities within the society so as to enable their economic development.”

Representing GIZ, Mr. Thomas Jaeschke, the E4D Head of Programme underscored the German Development Cooperation’s commitment to create decent employment and sustainable jobs for women and youth through MSME development; “women-led businesses in Kenya and beyond have proven multiplier financial effects both on the national economy and on households. This partnership therefore aims to address capacity, structural and financial challenges, as well as the impacts of the current pandemic, these MSME’s face to realize their full potential in accelerating these multiplier effects”.

The 1,500 SHE Stars will be enrolled in a Technical Business Management Programme facilitated by Yunus Environment Hub under the Absa SHE Business Academy as part of the program. Among other things, the program will cover cash flow analysis, risk management, income diversification, branding, fundraising, leadership, and people management. As part of the training program, Absa Bank will also provide loan facilities.

The initiative is in line with Absa’s women agenda and commitment to empower over 1 million women entrepreneurs across the country with the necessary financial and non-financial support to scale up and take their businesses to the next level over the next five years.

Absa Bank launched its SHE women in business account in May this year, providing access to unsecured loans of up to KES 8 million payable over six years. Women-owned businesses will be able to access the funds through existing banking products such as unsecured and secured loans, trade finance, asset finance, property finance and working capital facilities.

According to a 2018 report published by the Central Bank of Kenya, there are 517,000 registered women-owned businesses in Kenya, accounting for 33% of all women-owned small and medium enterprises. As per a separate study conducted by the International Finance Corporation, more than 70% of women-led SMEs in every region are either financially unserved or underserved.

“We need to encourage as many women entrepreneurs as possible to register their businesses, formalise their operations and maintain good records of their transactions. These are important factors that determine entrepreneurs’ ability to attract investment, credit, and other business opportunities,” added Ms Wasunna.