New: U&I Microfinance Focuses on Female Entrepreneurs in Kenya

Written by Lynn Hamerlinck on 25 September 2022

The financial needs of many Kenyan SME entrepreneurs are clear: quick access to affordable loans to help them build resilience and a stronger local economy so they can move past poverty barriers. U&I Microfinance Bank commits to strengthening the financial sector in Kenya's low- and middle-income areas. 

Founded and grounded in Nairobi since 2007, U&I Microfinance focuses on empowering many underserved groups, such as female entrepreneurs, by offering them much-needed loans. Hear from U&I client Mary how it changed her business and life.


Focus on Female Entrepreneurs

When women work, economies grow. And yet. Besides the worldwide gender wage gap and the burden of doing more unpaid labor in their household, women face high barriers to attract the capital they need for their businesses. This is the experience Mexican entrepreneur Dinora shared with us and that brought Mary to knock on U&I’s doors for a microloan. 


Mary has been in agriculture for over 10 years and changed from animal farming to cultivating Ammi flowers two years ago. That’s when she started working with U&I as well. The financing enabled her to expand her farm and create jobs for her farm employees. And on a personal level? Mary says she is now able to pay her bills without a struggle while making more savings and that she managed to build her own house.

To contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 5 for Gender Equality, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) CATALYZE Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) program granted Lendahand US$1.2 million. It allows our crowdfunding platform to mobilize more financing for small women-led businesses and female entrepreneurs and help close the global financing gap between women and men business owners. U&I shares this focus on empowering women-led SMEs and female entrepreneurs.


Breaking Financial Barriers

Investors will get the opportunity to finance specific U&I projects on Lendahand, from which 100% of the funds will go to female entrepreneurs. The goal? To break financial barriers for women, who are some of the most disadvantaged groups in Kenyan society today.

Lack of access to formal employment, being denied educational opportunities, and financial needs have pushed many women into the informal sector, where they do casual jobs and run small businesses. These small businesses and informal jobs provide them with minimal income that can barely meet their daily needs.

U&I helps these informal entrepreneurs by offering them financial products and services they otherwise have little to no access to. Their commitment has already changed many of these women’s lives by helping them realize that they can achieve great things in life and helping them overcome the financial barriers that have been holding them back.


Kenyan copywriter Charity previously researched how to revive women-led SMEs in Africa.


Expand into Rural Kenya

Today, U&I has served thousands of customers who find financial assistance in one of their four branches near Nairobi. The microfinance institution offers short-term loans, individual loans, working capital loans, and inventory loans. Two of their branches, Thika and Matuu, currently focus on catering to the financial needs of women and young professionals in agricultural businesses. With the support of Lendahand investors, U&I expects to expand further into rural areas, where agriculture is the key economic activity.


Looking to support a financial system that works for entrepreneurs in Africa? Create your free account now and keep an eye out for U&I’s projects on our project page.

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