In Africa, there are more businesses run by women than men. But according to the World Bank, women entrepreneurs earn 34% less profits than men. This gap presents a unique opportunity for African business associations to cater to women entrepreneurs.
As part of Women’s History Month, CIPE ran a contest highlighting the role of associations in women’s economic empowerment. There were two winners.
The first is the West Pokot chapter of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry. KNCCI has taken a leading role in empowering women entrepreneurs in the North Rift Economic Block. It organized the first ever International Women’s Day (IWD) event in West Pokot in March 2020 that provided a networking and learning platform for more than 100 women entrepreneurs and was broadcast live and re-run twice (by popular demand) on a local radio station.
This year the West Pokot Chamber celebrated the IWD by hosting a series of events that culminated with a Women in Business awards gala that highlighted the importance of challenging misconceptions and biases and creating a more gender-inclusive world.
This event also served as a platform for advocating for the allocation of appropriate market space for women in business in the region. That would help them grow their business. Typically, women have not been considered in the decision-making process on market space allocation, which has led to women in business being forced to sell in the street. This, in turn, generated a range of issues such as inability to access credit, insecurity, and lack of proper warehousing.
Besides empowering, promoting, and advocating for women in business interests, the West Pokot Chamber has also supported its women entrepreneur members in addressing the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic by providing vital market linkages and access to finance.
For example, the West Pokot Chamber has helped a women’s group, Jitokezee Apparel Enterprise, sell over 4,000 face masks in eight weeks in April and May last year. Additionally, thanks to the Chamber’s support in the application process, more than 300 members, out of which 90% are women, are now able to access loans through the joint KNCCI – Mastercard Foundation MSME COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program, aimed to provide women, youth and persons with disability who owned Micro, Small & medium Enterprises (MSMEs) with financial assistance in order to preserve jobs and continue operating during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
CIPE will present the other winner in an upcoming blog post.