, NAIROBI, Kenya May 26 – The Government is set to increase the total budgetary allocation for the revolving Women Enterprise Fund (WEF) to Sh1.7 billion.
Speaking on Tuesday during the launch of the Fund, President Mwai Kibaki said the Government proposes to allocate more resources for onward lending to women.
“In this regard an additional Sh500 million will be allocated in the coming financial year to boost the WEF,” President Kibaki said.
The Head of State, at the same time, reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to implementing the women employment affirmative action.
He appealed to the private sector and development partners to leverage the resources allocated to the Fund to enable more women access credit.
“I appeal to established big businesses, parastatals and learning institutions to support budding women and youth enterprises; I urge local schools, colleges, universities and Government ministries to give special consideration in support of women enterprises by buying their supplies,” the President appealed.
President Kibaki said the Government would continue to improve the business environment by, among other things, boosting security, improving infrastructure and simplifying business permit requirements.
He stressed that sustainable development cannot be achieved in an environment where a large section of the women population is excluded from the financial sector, the President expressed confidence that the fund will go a long way in empowering women and redressing gender inequalities.
“Women play a critical role in national development as they constitute over 50 percent of the country’s total population and make up the majority of the work force in the agricultural sector which remains the backbone of the country’s economy,” he said.
“39 percent of the Kenyan population without access to financial services are women.”
The Government initiated the WEF to serve as an alternative source of finance for women who cannot easily access the formal financial sector.
The President said the Fund will also facilitate business women to access markets for their products, help women enterprises to develop linkages with big enterprises and develop the necessary infrastructure to support women run businesses.
Mr Kibaki said a total of Sh682 million has been disbursed in loans to 92,000 women across the country through micro finance institutions and the Constituency Women Enterprise Scheme.
President Kibaki said it was also encouraging that women economic activities have triggered positive multiplier effects, saying women enterprises have not only created jobs for themselves but also for many other Kenyans.
Said the President: “By empowering women financially, the Fund will also be strengthening women’s voices and bargaining power, moreover, an increase in disposable incomes for women means better nutrition for their families, as well as better clothing, healthcare and education.”
President Kibaki expressed confidence that the country’s economy would recover in the near future and called on Kenyans to bear the current worldwide economic downturn.
At the same time Gender, Children and Social Development Minister, Ms Esther Murugi promised to initiate the creation of buffer zones to always cushion women against adverse economic effects and also to ensure that more women acquire financial management skills to break out of the financial dependency cycle.