Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) recently organized a virtual meeting dubbed #SupplierDiversitySummit to accelerate advocacy for greater supplier diversity for women enterprises.
The meeting also sought to increase advocacy for wider market linkages with public and private sector, and development agencies supply chains for women-owned enterprises.
Gender Secretary Faith Kasiva who represented the Cabinet Secretary Prof Margret Kobia, noted that the summit fits within the government's goal in promoting the socio-economic wellbeing of women in line with Vision 2030, which stipulates that gender is among the six sectors that will drive the social-economic growth of the country.
She added that the objective of the supplier diversity and the actions thereof, should determine the benefits of inclusive sourcing chains including economic recovery and survival strategy now and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ms Kasiva observed that the focus of the summit was timely given the adverse effects of Covid-19 on small and medium enterprises.
"As documented, a pandemic such as the Covi-19, deepens existing economic inequalities, seriously affects engagements in economic activities especially in the informal sector which is dominated by women. The Micro Small and Medium Enterprise Sector has experienced challenges including; falling demands for goods and services, supply chain disruptions, the tightening of credit conditions among others," she said.
Director, Business Banking, Absa Kenya Elizabeth Wasuna, said they had set aside a Sh10 billion fund to advance credit to women entrepreneurs for the next five years to reduce the inequality women-owned businesses face in accessing finance.
Ms Wasuna noted that the bank would give women unsecured business loans of up to Sh6 million, LPO financing of up to Sh12 million, unsecured invoice discounting of up to Sh50 million and unsecured bid bonds of up to Sh10 million.
National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) chairperson Dr Joyce Mutinda challenged the government, human rights bodies, the private sector and the media to recognize supplier diversity and establish a reward system for organizations that achieve gender equality and equity in their supply processes.
Other entities have also embarked on supporting women enterprises following the negative impacts of the pandemic. WomenWork in partnership with MasterCard Foundation last month launched a program to offer emergency loans and business expertise to women in business.
The loans are aimed to cushion women against Covid-19 effects on their businesses. The initiative is part of the MasterCard Foundation Covid-19 recovery and resilience program in partnership with Grassroots Business Fund and 4G Capital. It will also include digital business training of women entrepreneurs.
Under the program, Kenya will receive Sh1.5 billion to facilitate business continuity for enterprises with less than 10 employees and a turn-over below Sh500,000.
Apart from the private entities, the government has also rolled out programs to lift women entrepreneurs in the country.
In the Budget Statement presented to the nation by National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani in June, the CS set aside Sh3 billion for the Credit Guarantee Scheme, which will allow for provision of affordable credit to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
"To support the recovery and growth of MSMEs through various interventions including operationalisation of the credit guarantee scheme and further expand opportunities for them, the government will gazette and enforce the list of items to promote the 'Buy Kenya, Build Kenya'," said Yatani.