KCB receives Sh4.2bn to fund women businesses in Kenya

Kenya Commercial Bank branch along Mama Ngina Street in Nairobi County.  

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

KCB Bank Kenya has received €30 million (Sh4.2 billion) from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the European Investment Bank (EIB) for onward lending to women entrepreneurs and startups.

The lender said the funds would be disbursed through its Female-Led and Made Enterprises (FLME) and the KCB 2jiajiri programmes.

The FLME is a Sh250 billion initiative unveiled two years ago to create flexible, accessible, and affordable funding solutions for women entrepreneurs to bridge the support gap left by traditional lenders.

At the onset of the scheme, the listed lender said the funding would be open to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) owned or run by women, noting it had eased credit requirements and documentation such as security for faster loan processing.

Through the programme, the bank says it has disbursed loans worth Sh116 billion to more than 600,000 FLME customers, while the total FLME portfolio constitutes 35 percent of KCB’s SME loan book.

The lender says that the new funding will address a range of issues that limit low-income women’s ability to access finance, adding that the technical assistance it provides will help financial institutions lower the cost of loans to women through digital technology and risk sharing.

“Despite their dominance, women’s economic potential is dwarfed by multiple challenges, such as the lack of appropriately designed financial products, weak institutional capacity, and a lack of incentives within banks to target and lend to women,” said Annastacia Kimtai, KCB Bank Kenya managing director.

“The financial industry stands to significantly increase its bottom line by addressing banking’s gender gap: female financial inclusion – particularly the promotion of financial literacy, digital banking, and access to credit.”

On her part, the director of women’s economic empowerment at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Greta Bull noted that unequal access to credit remains a huge challenge that holds back economic activity and social progress, especially for women in Kenya.

“Across Africa, women need access to more and better credit to support their entrepreneurial activities. This partnership will help transform the banking and financial landscape in Africa and create incentives for lending to women in business and make them contribute more towards the wider economic growth ambitions,” said Bull.

The funding facility benefits from a partial guarantee from the European Union (EU) under the European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus (EFSD+) and is part of the Global Gateway strategy.

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