NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 24 – Women Enterprise Fund (WEF) is collaborating with Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and other organizations to provide support for women running small and medium-sized business to standardize and improve the quality of their products.
The partnerships have seen 13,500 beneficiaries trained by WEF receive technical guidance to improve their products ensuring they meet industry standards.
Once the products are standardized the women are eligible to apply for certification, which the Fund pays a subsidized rate of Kshs.5,800. As a result, their products will qualify for the KEBS Diamond mark of quality which allows them to access local and international markets.
“A key mandate for WEF is to provide business support services including linkages for the women entrepreneurs to improve on the quality of their products and access markets. This was one of several strategic partnerships we have entered into to support our beneficiaries,” said Charles Mwirigi, CEO Women Enterprise Fund.
“Over the last 5 years, our beneficiaries have benefited from this partnership which has enabled them to improve their products to industry standards. This includes handling, product quality, packaging and preservation,” added Mwirigi.
As a result of the partnership the agency has disbursed over Kshs.150 million to fund beneficiary businesses in the manufacturing and processing sector since the Fund was set up in 2012. A number expected to increase significantly as the number of SME’s venturing into manufacturing continues to grow.
The funding cuts across numerous ventures including vegetable oil processing, soap and detergents making, water purification and bottling, yoghurt processing, aquarium making for sale, honey processing, making of hides and skins products, processing of horticultural produce, making of construction materials e.g. tiles and bricks making, ventilation blocks, milk processing and welding.
Since 2012, the agency has also partnered with other organizations including Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture to support the women enterprises and start-ups with the guidance needed to develop and grow their businesses.
The revelations comes as data from Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicate that women and youth comprise over 70 percent of our Kenya’s population but despite this, they have continued to face enormous and varied challenges in their pursuit for social economic empowerment.
Through these capacity building partnerships, WEF is not only increasing their chances of accessing credit for starting or expanding their businesses as well as building their capacity to run their businesses in order to increase their chances for success.
Earlier in the year, WEF and Coca-Cola Central, East and West Africa Limited (CEWA Ltd) announced that a further 285,000 Kenyan women will be empowered in their joint economic empowerment program. Participants in the program receive business skills training, financial services, as well as access to peer networks through a business club for mentoring and ideas sharing. In 2018, the initiative empowered 161,000 Kenyan women.