Women-owned businesses are a bedrock of the Kenyan economy. Research from the International Finance Corporation (PDF | 3MB) shows that they account for almost half of all micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), which contribute around 20% to the country's GDP.
However, compared with male-owned businesses, they employ fewer staff and are less likely to grow. The main barriers are financial literacy and access to funds. Without which, they are unable to develop their businesses and so remain stuck at the micro-enterprise level.
To address this imbalance, our Sunlight brand set up its Women of More programme. Working alongside the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), Sunlight designed the programme to empower women entrepreneurs through various initiatives, in particular financial literacy training.
Following the success of the pilot – which ran last year and involved 50 women business owners – Sunlight is now scaling up the programme, further strengthening the UNITAR partnership and joining forces with Absa Bank Kenya.
The aim is to reach an additional 5,000 women by December this year and over 100,000 by the end of 2026.
As Henry Muchauraya, Home Care Director for our East Africa business, says: “There is so much potential among women entrepreneurs in Kenya that’s not being realised. This programme is about empowering them with the skills and knowledge to build sustainable, profitable ventures. We want to help them move their businesses from ‘striving’ to ‘thriving’ so they can improve their lives and livelihoods, and contribute even more to their communities.”