- The extended partnership aims to close the existing gap between men and women’s access to formal financial institutions.
- Recent data by CBK shows access to formal financial services and products decelerated among the female and male population in 2021, compared to 2019.
Absa Bank has signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Trade Centre (ITC) to extend financial and mentorship support to women owned businesses for an additional two years.
This is through the ' SheTrades Hub' project, a global initiative that seeks to drive increased trade, productivity and competitiveness for women entrepreneurs and women-owned companies.
Commenting on the partnership extension, Absa Bank CEO and managing director Abdi Mohamed said this is a platform they will further ride on to ensure women traders play an active role in international trade.
"The programme aligns well with our commitment to positively impact and grow women-owned businesses in the country, by creating opportunities for them to participate in the global economy by building their capacities and delivering trainings on financial literacy and entrepreneurship," Mohamed said.
"During the extended two-year partnership, we seek to scale up our financial offerings to women entrepreneurs."
The extended partnership further aims to close the existing gap between men and women’s access to formal financial institutions.
Data by the Central Bank of Kenya shows access to formal financial services and products decelerated among the female and male population in 2021, compared to 2019.
In the 2021 FinAccess Household Survey report, the regulator says despite the slow growth in uptake of formal financial inclusion, the gap between male and female improved to 4.2 per cent in 2021 from 5.2 per cent in 2019 implying rising equality among the two genders.
The gap in exclusion rates among the two genders however increased to 1.6 per cent in 2021 compared with 0.5 per cent gap in 2019.
Absa says women entrepreneurs in the country own nearly half of all small businesses, yet barriers to accessing finance persist.
"Since the inaugural ITC, Absa partnership in 2016, more than 8,500 women have received financial literacy training and more than 10,400 women have obtained business financing support, valued at over $23 million (Sh3.1 billion)," the lender says in part.
On her part ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton said access to finance is one of the most pressing obstacles faced by women entrepreneurs in Kenya and globally.
"We hope that through such initiatives, more financial institutions will seek to unlock business financing for women," she said.
SheTrades Hub is part of a network of 13 others spanning Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America.