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Keeping Kenya’s Women-Led Businesses Afloat During COVID-19 Lockdown

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Keeping Kenya’s Women-Led Businesses Afloat During COVID-19 Lockdown

If women are empowered, we become strong to support our families

NEW YORK, United States of America, September 28, 2021 / APO Group / –

Irene Auma had just returned home in Ugunja, western Kenya, from Uganda when Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the country would go into lockdown.

“I had just bought goods worth USD 500 in Uganda to sell on my stall in the market,” said Irene. “All my belongings perished, there was nothing to sell. Also, there were police everywhere, so traders couldn’t try to sell. “

COVID-19 has disrupted the income sources of many people, especially those in low-income households, according to a study by UN Women Kenya. It is estimated that the number of women who have lost all income due to the pandemic is 1.6 times that of their male counterparts.

To mitigate the impact of the pandemic on women, girls and their communities, UN Women has partnered with the Kenya Women Finance Trust (KWFT) to provide affordable training in credit and business management supported by the government of Japan. So far, the program has dispersed over USD 60,000. KWFT has developed a unique and affordable loan product aimed at helping affected women entrepreneurs replenish their stock and cover other related business expenses, ensuring the continuity of their business.

High interest rates, short repayment terms and the need for collateral from banks make access to credit difficult for small and medium-sized businesses run by women. “I don’t have a title deed, I don’t have a car logbook, I only have this vegetable stand, so accessing loans from the bank is very difficult for me,” Irene explained. . The revolving fund has helped businesswomen avoid prolonged losses and business bankruptcies through an urgent pandemic response. An initial grant of US $ 50,000 was distributed to 314 women across the country who also benefited from mentoring and business development training.

According to Elizabeth Obanda, UN Women’s Economic Empowerment Specialist in Kenya, the loan was intended to benefit micro, small and medium-sized enterprises headed by women. “Women entrepreneurs were able to restart their businesses, improve their income, meet their financial obligations and support their families. It improved their sustainable livelihoods, their dignity and boosted their self-esteem, ”she said.

“With the flexible loan, I received [USD 200], and I was able to relaunch my business. I was able to feed myself and pay my children’s school fees. If women are empowered, we become strong to support our families. In less than 3 months, Irene paid off the original loan and borrowed again to pay for her daughter’s school fees. “With this flexible loan, I will also be able to send my children to school,” she added.

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