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Women Enterprise Fund Learning Partnership

Halima at her business of selling handcrafted goods in Kibera, Kenya ©Gilbert Kiprotich/IDinsight

Program Evaluation Report - 523 KB

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Decision-maker’s challenge

Women entrepreneurs in Kenya face significant barriers to accessing credit facilities, including gender biases, financial illiteracy, and bureaucratic processes. Addressing these challenges requires a multi-pronged approach that includes public awareness campaigns, training programs, and policy reforms that promote gender equality and support women-owned enterprises’ access to credit. By addressing these challenges, Kenya can unleash the potential of women entrepreneurs, drive economic growth and poverty reduction, and promote gender equality.

In 2007, the Government of Kenya established the Women Enterprise Fund (WEF) as a semi-autonomous government agency to provide accessible and affordable credit to support women in starting and expanding their businesses, to support wealth and employment creation, and to empower women. Specifically, WEF has developed the following key mandates to address the various challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in Kenya:

  1. Credit: To provide affordable credit and other financial services to Kenyan women entrepreneurs.
  2. Capacity building: To provide capacity building and training programs to women to equip them with the skills and knowledge needed to access credit. The capacity building and training programs aim to improve financial literacy, business skills, and other essential skills for effective credit management.
  3. Business markets: To attract and facilitate investment in micro, small, and medium enterprise-oriented (MSMEs) infrastructures such as business markets or incubators that benefit women.
  4. Market linkage: Supporting women-oriented MSMEs to develop linkages with larger enterprises to create a large market for women-owned products and services.
  5. Marketing: Facilitating the marketing of women’s enterprises’ products and services in domestic and international markets. This provides an opportunity for women to showcase their products and services, increasing their visibility and exposure to prospective customers, investors, and suppliers both locally and internationally.

IDinsight is in a long-term learning partnership with WEF, providing the team with evaluation and advisory services, and capacity building.

Impact opportunity

In most of the developing world, access to financial services for women is still very low. The Women Enterprise Fund provides loans to all adult aged Kenyan women, without prejudice, meaning that all women are given access to credit. As of 2022, the fund has disbursed loans to over a million women in Kenya. Access to credit can open up economic opportunities for women, and bank accounts can be a gateway to the use of additional financial services. Additionally. allowing women owned  businesses to thrive and grow by ensuring access to credit can drive progress on several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Advancing women’s financial inclusion is linked to eliminating poverty, reducing hunger and food security (SDG 2), achieving good health and well-being , fostering quality education, and promoting gender equality.

An evidence and data driven approach to the initiative ensures that the fund provides tailored access and services to the women of Kenya, and that the fund reaches the most vulnerable women.

Our approach

IDinsight proposes working closely with government partners to identify gaps in service delivery and to co-create solutions through Learning Partnerships. IDinsight’s LPs are extended, open-ended engagements that rely on a broad suite of data and evidence tools to meet our partner’s needs and guide decision-making. An iterative, evidence-driven approach can bridge the gaps to address bottlenecks and improve programs and lives.

IDinsight’s LP model is demand-driven and attentive to partners’ evolving needs. The below diagram outlines a high-level Theory of Change (ToC) for IDinsight’s Learning Partnership model. As shown in the ToC diagram, the iterative approach focuses on identifying problems that are important obstacles to the partners’ impact, generating specific evidence to tackle that problem, and feeding that evidence into decision-making, all while appreciating the constraints partners face. By taking a flexible and iterative approach, Learning Partnerships can quickly pivot to meet demand, resulting in relevant, timely solutions that the partner can sustain.

The results

The project is ongoing.