KENYA – KCB Bank Kenya has set aside KShs250 billion (US$2.06b) to fund women entrepreneurs in the next five years, cementing the Bank’s role in catalyzing economic growth.
In a newly revamped women offering, the Bank will extend the funding to women-led and owned Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) across the country.
To unlock this, KCB Bank has already eased credit requirements and documentation such as security to support businesses in a transformation that will guarantee faster loan processing periods.
Additionally, women entrepreneurs will be able to get non-financial support extended by partner organizations.
Under the KSh50 billion (US$0.41b) a year platform, Female-Led and Made Enterprises- FLME, KCB Bank seeks to support entrepreneurship, job creation, and strengthen its outreach towards unique market segments like businesses owned or run by women.
“KCB believes that the MSME sector bears the biggest influence on the economic trajectory of East Africa. We consider this sub-sector as a promising development frontier. We are reimagining the way we engage with women entrepreneurs to enable them better overcome business challenges by providing working capital and other critical non-financial needs to sustain their growth,” Paul Russo, CEO, KCB Group said.
“Women are running some of the most transformative business enterprises in Kenya which we see as the conglomerates of the future.
“At the same time, they face a lot of obstacles, like limited access to credit facilities, labor and skill gaps, exclusion from key networks, as well as social and legal constraints. What we are now doing is mainstreaming this agenda by widening the net to enable more women entrepreneurs to get access to the critical business support touchpoints.”
Data shows that almost 80% of women-owned businesses have limited or no access to credit. They lack collateral or proper documentation to access credit facilities.
“When a woman wants to start or grow her own business, the odds of securing a business loan are heavily stacked against her. We are relaxing some of the requirements as a solution to addressing inequality in accessing credit finance,” he added.
KCB has been intentional in ensuring diversity and inclusion by focusing on internal and external programmes, in this case to support the women agenda.
To affirm this commitment, KCB is deliberate on its women proposition journey that is aligned with the UN Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically Goals No 1, 8, 10 and 17 which focus on No Poverty, Decent Work & Economic Growth, Reduced Inequality and Partnerships respectively.
“We see these four goals as critical in fostering an enabling environment in which women can meaningfully participate and thrive in the economy,” said Russo.
The Bank’s key commitment is on increasing the value of loans disbursed to women and increasing the spend targeting special groups such as persons living with disabilities.
The Bank targets to achieve gender parity in staff composition across all management and Board levels. In the long run, FLME will play a critical role in creating local and international market linkages that will go a long way in empowering and catalyzing women entrepreneurship both locally and regionally.