Boost for Kenyan women SMEs as they improve standards

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Women Enterprise Fund (WEF) in collaborating with Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and other organizations have partnered to provide support for women running small and medium-sized business to standardize and improve the quality of their products.

The partnerships has seen 13,500 beneficiaries trained by WEF receive technical guidance to improve their products ensuring they meet industry standards.

READ ALSO:KEBS to issue new Import Standardization Marks to curb illicit trade

Once the products are standardized, the women are eligible to apply for certification, which the Fund pays a subsidized rate of Ksh5,800.

As a result, their products will qualify for the Kebs Diamond mark of quality which allows them to access local and international markets.

READ ALSO:Zambia to connect women SMEs to international markets by 2020

“A key mandate for WEF is to provide business support services including linkages for the women entrepreneurs to improve on the quality of their products and access markets. This was one of several strategic partnerships we have entered into to support our beneficiaries,” said Eng. Charles Mwirigi, CEO Women Enterprise Fund.

“Over the last five years, our beneficiaries have benefited from this partnership which has enabled them to improve their products to industry standards. This includes handling, product quality, packaging and preservation,” added Mwirigi.

As a result of the partnership,the agency has disbursed over Ksh150 million to fund beneficiary businesses in the manufacturing and processing sector since the Fund was set up in 2012,a number expected to increase significantly as the number of SME’s venturing into manufacturing continues to grow.

READ ALSO:e-Commerce deal to link Kenyan SMEs to markets

The funding cuts across numerous ventures including vegetable oil processing, soap and detergents making, water purification and bottling, yoghurt processing, aquarium making for sale, honey processing, making of hides and skins products, processing of horticultural produce, making of construction materials such as tiles and bricks making, ventilation blocks, milk processing and welding.

Since 2012, the agency has also partnered with other organizations including Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture to support the women enterprises and start-ups with the guidance needed to develop and grow their businesses.

Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicates that women and youth form over 70% of  Kenya’s population but despite this, they have continued to face enormous and varied challenges in their pursuit for social economic empowerment.

READ ALSO:Kenya: Women own half the 1.3 million MSMEs

Through these capacity building partnerships, WEF is not only increasing their chances of accessing credit for starting or expanding their businesses but also also building their capacity to run their businesses in order to increase their chances for success.

Earlier in the year, WEF and Coca-Cola, Central, East and West Africa Limited (CEWA Ltd) 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 empowered 161,000 Kenyan women.

READ ALSO:Promoting women will boost African economic growth, World Bank says

 

 

Martin Mwita is a business reporter based in Kenya. He covers equities, capital markets, trade and the East African Cooperation markets.

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