Lessons Kenya can learn from the best country for women entrepreneurs

The Female Entrepreneurship Index ranked 77 countries and the U.S. came first. Kenya was not in the rankings but it wouldn’t be too wild to suggest we would have ended up amongst our African peers. Below are the reasons that made America first (pun not intended).

1.Access to finance

This is the biggest challenge for women entrepreneurs in Kenya. It’s common knowledge that the U.S. has strong public institutions. One of these is the Small Business Administration (SBA). The institution guarantees loans to women and also gives them grants. There is also cheap credit from financial institutions for women. In Kenya, the Women Enterprise Fund (WEF) has had low uptake and institutions want to charge interest on loans that are higher than the returns of a business. There needs to be more risk and more inventiveness to introduce more products for women entrepreneurs in Kenya and to cover more ground. Let women in rural Kenya, marginalized areas and those with disabilities better themselves, as well.

2.Equal Rights

Kenya has made a lot of strides in the goal of realizing gender parity. But stereotypes and cultural inhibitions stand in the way of having even more success. Equal rights for women determine support in entrepreneurship and representation in business and in politics. With women being a majority of the population, you can see that we really underwhelm. Now, the U.S. doesn’t have 50-50 representation neither but they have certainly done away with many of the cultural barriers that deny women equal opportunity. One possible reason why we lag behind is our low urbanization rate. It’s not impressive even by African standards. Urbanization brings modernity.


Highly educated women end up having more success as entrepreneurs- compared to women with less education. School imparts skills for running a business and the capacity to recognize far more opportunities. This is why there was a call for more Kenyan women to take up technical courses. According to the Female Entrepreneurship Index, women in the U.S. scored highly in terms of education. Intake of girls at all levels of education in Kenya is ever increasing. Looks like we will keep our reputation, in Africa, of being highly educated.

4.Size of market

Women entrepreneurs in the U.S. not only have market expansion opportunities but they also benefit from a high purchasing power. On the other hand, women entrepreneurs in Kenya struggle with simple aspects like accessing markets. Good news is that today we have entrepreneurs who are in the business of delivering this service to women with this problem. An easy way to enjoy what the best country for women entrepreneurs enjoy is to encourage women to export. Exporting increases quality, competitiveness and has much larger potential.