Some $3 billion has been earmarked for Kenyan businesswomen during the 2015/16 financial year, making the country one of the leading providers of opportunities for women, according to the Kenya Association of Women Business Owners (KAWBO).
The funds that are being provided through various initiatives, including the Women’s Fund, the Youth Fund, and the Uwezo Fund, are ring-fenced so as to provide affirmative action for women in business.
“Securing this milestone is further evidence of the commitment Kenya has made in empowering women business owners,” said KAWBO board member Marilyn Kamuru.
According to her, research indicates that there is an extensive knock-on effect on society as a result of investing in women.
“For every dollar that you put in women’s hands, 80 cents goes to the family,” said Kamuru.
The organisation argues that strides made by the government in enabling women in business can only have an impact if women actually take up the opportunities.
The remarks were made at a press conference in Nairobi on the side lines of a forum by the Washington-DC-based Vital Voices Global Partnership, which is hosting the Supporting Public Advocacy for Regional Competitiveness (SPARC) Forum, a programme that aims to increase African women’s economic engagement in labour and entrepreneurship.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the four-day event, the Director for Africa at Vital Voices, Celena Green, said the forum would take stock of the gains that women in business had made over the years.
“The introduction of the Public Procurement and Disposal (Preference and Reservations) Regulations in 2011 undoubtedly marked a critical shift in the manner in which [the Kenyan] government procures goods, services and works,” said the chairwoman of the KAWBO, Eva Muraya.
In late 2012 KAWBO launched the Imarisha Biashara campaign, which successfully trained 700 women over two years and ensured that women and persons with disabilities became key stakeholders of the Preference and Reservations Regulations.
Crucially, the campaign successfully lobbied for the removal of the turnover ceiling of KSh.10 million imposed by the National Treasury in 2013, thus enabling women with a turnover in excess of this amount to register and be awarded the Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) certificate.
The forum paves the way for Vital Voices to highlight advocacy initiatives taking place around the continent to accelerate women’s participation in advancing economic growth.
The forum, being attended by some 150 women representing business, government, civil society and the media, highlighted women’s contributions to the continent’s fastest growing economies and emphasised the critical role that African women are playing in terms of advocacy and entrepreneurship.
A non-governmental organisation, Vital Voices Global Partnership, created in June 2000, grew out of the US Government’s 1997 Vital Voices Democracy Initiative.
Vital Voices is advancing women’s economic, political and social status around the world by providing skills, networking and financial support.
In Africa it has supported businesswomen’s associations in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda to design and implement robust advocacy campaigns to create a more enabling economic environment for women.