Meet 4 Female Entrepreneurs from Kenya
Written by Antón Jáuregui on 8 March 2023
While the sun rises over the plains of Kenya, thousands of women are preparing for another day of work in their small businesses. Despite the challenges they face, these women are the driving force behind the country's growth over the past decade.
As in many other emerging countries, one of their biggest challenges has to do with the lack of access to finance. And this is where our local borrower U&I Microfinance comes in. Thanks to its accessible loans, this microfinance institution has been providing financing to female entrepreneurs in Kenya since 2007.
Empowering female entrepreneurs
When women work, the economy grows. And this is even more true in emerging countries: according to the IFC (part of the World Bank), female entrepreneurs in Kenya contribute to 20% of GDP. However, these women still face many barriers in accessing finance for their businesses, either due to lack of collateral or financial infrastructure, or simply because women are legally not allowed to sign financial contracts without their husbands' permission.
This led Mary to apply for a loan from U&I Microfinance. After 10 years of working in crop and livestock farming, Mary recently switched from caring for animals to growing the iconic Ammi flower, known as the Queen of Africa. In order to make this career switch, she turned to U&I Microfinance for a small loan.
Mary in her field of Ammi flowers. Below, Mary with a U&I Microfinance employee
According to Mary, the financing has allowed her to expand her farm and create jobs for her farm employees. On a personal level, the financially stable farm allows her to pay her bills smoothly and save money to build her own house.
In the main marketplace of Nairobi, we meet Maryam and Olpha, who sell second-hand footwear. They are both part of a group of 18 female entrepreneurs with a store or stall at the market who support each other in tasks such as generating savings, financing, and other day-to-day activities.
Maryam and Olpha in their second-hand shoe shops
Both Maryam and Olpha agree that access to financing has enabled them to cover their families' educational and health expenses, and they are now able to pay their bills on time. In addition, the COVID pandemic hit them hard, so funding from U&I Microfinance was vital to getting them back on their feet and continuing to drive their businesses forward.
Further down the market, we meet Teresia, who runs a grain and seed store, selling rice, beans, peas, chickpeas, and sorghum... which she buys directly from farmers.
Four years ago, Teresia realized that many people struggled to access raw seeds and cereals since no shop provided them in her neighborhood. Confident about her business plan, she started her now thriving business.
Teresia in her cereals and seeds shop
Two years ago, Teresia needed financing to expand her business for the first time and decided to apply for a loan from U&I Microfinance. Her reasons for choosing them were the ease and speed of the process, the affordable interest rates, and the ‘great customer service.’
When asked about the impact of the loan, Teresia tells us that thanks to the financing, she has been able to expand and generate more savings and diversify her business into other sectors, such as the hospitality industry.
U&I Microfinance on Lendahand
Meeting these women gives us an idea of the great impact U&I is making in Kenya. This is the main reason we have decided to work with this financial institution as a local partner: to provide affordable financing options to women microentrepreneurs in the country so that they can continue to generate employment and economic growth for their communities.
Take a look at U&I Microfinance's profile on Lendahand and the projects available for investment. With your investment, you will contribute to financial inclusion in Kenya and boost the projects of hard-working, entrepreneurial women to drive their businesses forward.
Thank you for being part of the change!