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NGO seeks to unlock capital for women-led businesses

Most women-led businesses report the difficulty in accessing capital as one of the biggest hurdles to their business growth.
Most women-led businesses report the difficulty in accessing capital as one of the biggest hurdles to their business growth. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

International development organisation MEDA has partnered with a specialist risk financier for small and medium enterprises in a Sh32.5 million training programme meant to help women-led businesses access growth capital.

The training, which started in July 2020 and runs through to August 2021, targets 67 women entrepreneurs in Kenya and Rwanda with technical assistance to secure investments.

Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), an organisation that creates business solutions to poverty, has teamed up with risk financier Business Partners International (BPI) in the programme.

The two have also brought Volta Capital and Criterion Institute on board.

Most women-led businesses report the difficulty in accessing capital as one of the biggest hurdles to their business growth.

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This has seen most fail to scale up or close shop altogether.

The training is designed to make their ventures attractive to formal lenders.

At the end of the project, the partners hope they can make a critical contribution to the gender lens investing field by demonstrating both the business case for and the efficacy of approaches to finance women entrepreneurs.

“This, in turn, can build the confidence of investors. Ultimately, greater investor confidence will lead to increased capital flows to women-owned businesses and investment vehicles that employ a gender lens,” said in a joint statement by MEDA and BPI.

After training, the entrepreneurs will re-apply to the ‘second chance’ window, which will be financed through a combination of project and private investment funds.

To achieve this, the initiative will examine viable approaches that can improve access to capital.

This is because, without adequate financing, women-owned businesses will continue to struggle to survive or will grow at a much slower rate.

At the end of the programme, Meda will compare the success rates for these “second chance” clients against businesses that were successful in their first application.

“At the same time, we will work directly with BPI to understand how systematic bias and discrimination might be working against building and financing successful women-owned businesses,” said MEDA.

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