It’s no secret that there is a big gender gap when it comes to entrepreneurship in Kenya. What can be done to level the playing field?
Progressive Government policy is at the center of achieving this goal. Kenya is a leading African nation in laws promoting gender equality. One marker; Kenya is the leading African nation in women representation in senior corporate management according to an African Development Bank (AfDB) report.
Even so, you and other women can still make your own moves to close the gender gap in entrepreneurship. It’s not a final solution but great for positive mentality and just making your life less stressful.
So what gender gaps can Kenyan business-women band together to solve?
Inadequate access to finance
Women’s share of MSMEs in Kenya is very representative. Women own and run half of the small businesses in Kenya, going by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics findings.
Yet, when it comes to credit, they don’t receive even a quarter of what is offered to this category of businesses. Financial institutions continue to struggle in coming up with innovative and tailored financial products for women.
Esther Passaris said of her experience that banks in Kenya are in “property business, not finance.” from their blinding by collateral.
This means that pooling resources remains to be the most viable option for women entrepreneurs. We have seen boda boda riders in Kenya achieve home ownership with this move. While America remains mesmerized by CrowdFunding, we have always had it in Harambees and Chamas.
One idea would be to focus on owning assets (collateral) instead of the typical short term loaning as your women’s group goal. These group owned assets would then be used to guarantee business loans for group members – after a fair mechanism of determining which projects deserve funding.
Women in Kenya can also focus on financial management. Properly managing money is just as important as getting that money in your pocket.
Slower business growth
In Kenya, women-owned business show slower growth than those owned by men. The latter growing almost twice as fast. What is behind this gender gap? And what can you and other Kenyan women do about it?
First, three quarters of small women-owned businesses in Kenya are in the trade business – retail and wholesale. Trade is good but it’s a low profit margin businesses and as such not attractive for investors.
Secondly, women business are twice likely to be operating from home and close to 85% of these small businesses have no employees. Is this your experience? Do you know a woman-run business with these characteristics?
If you are in trade, you don’t have to leave. You can make your work better by investing in your own further training and education. These come in many different forms – difficulty in funding or making time for school shouldn’t put you off.
Learning not only helps you identify better business opportunity (besides managing business better) but also you get to choose between more options on the table.