Women Entrepreneurs in Kenya are the key to economic growth because they are generating employment. But women-owned businesses could contribute more than what they are doing today. A growing amount of research shows that countries that fail to address gender barriers are losing out on significant economic growth. Without increased attention to the gender dimensions of economic development, Kenya is therefore unlikely to meet its growth targets. This therefore demonstrates that addressing gender barriers in Kenya could generate significant economic growth for the country. The Kenyan government recognizes that Women Entrepreneurs in Kenya have not been on an equal footing when it comes to their access to opportunities and assets but it has yet to effectively address the barriers facing women in business.
Certain barriers in the business environment have a disproportionate effect on Women Entrepreneurs. The Barriers include;
- Lack of Property Rights,
- Inadequate Access to Finance,
- Lack of Education,
- Managing Employees,
- Dealing with the City Council,
- Poor Access to Justice.
Lack of Property Rights as a barrier that Women Entrepreneurs in Kenya face
Lack of Property Rights is a major issue that affects Women Entrepreneurs in Kenya. It prevents Women
Entrepreneurs from expanding their businesses. Women accept that they should not own property themselves. The propensity is that it should be jointly owned. This lack of land and property is a significant barrier for Kenyan businesswomen. It translates directly into women’s inability to access bank financing needed for their business.
Inadequate Access to Finance
Another barrier facing Women Entrepreneurs in Kenya is access to finance is an issue is because of requirements of collateral. In Kenya only 1% of women own property and that makes it very difficult for women to provide collateral for banks. We have to look for different instruments to address access to finance issues for women, like mentoring them, helping them prepare proposals for bank funding, and even providing a guarantee for the banks.
Lack of Education
Lower education levels puts Women Entrepreneurs in Kenya at a disadvantage compared to men. While the gender gap in primary education in Kenya has decreased in recent years, the gap remains high at secondary and tertiary education levels. Lower education does not emphasize entrepreneurship skills. It decreases the chances that women will have the knowledge needed to excel in business, and thereby contribute to the country’s overall economic growth.
Managing employees is another challenge that Women Entrepreneurs in Kenya face. Finding and retaining good employees is essential for the success of a business, but can be difficult for women entrepreneurs in Kenya. Since women-owned businesses tend to be smaller, they are often less likely to provide job security and retain good talent. Some women find that they are not taken seriously by their employees, especially in non-traditional sectors, and they have to make a special effort to win their respect.
Another challenge that Women Entrepreneurs in Kenya face is discrimination. Even when women entrepreneurs do approach banks for financing, they tend to face discrimination. Women report that bank officials tend to ignore them in meetings and prefer speaking to their husbands or male business partners:
The fact that banks engage in gender bias prevents many women from even approaching them. Some women get so discouraged that they do not bother to seek bank financing and turn instead to informal savings groups.
Dealing with the City Council
City Council has proved to be a very big challenge to Women Entrepreneurs in Kenya. The licenses are too many and the cost too much. Being a woman seems to exaggerate that fact since most women are harassed by the city council officials when they come to inspect the business premises. Moreover, women may be less likely to meet and negotiate bribes with the predominantly male council officials. Business licensing is an issue for many women entrepreneurs who perceive the process as lengthy and complex
Poor Access to Justice
Access to justice is essential for ensuring smooth business operations, and it spans issues such as enforcing contracts and employment disputes. Yet Women Entrepreneurs in Kenya have difficulties when accessing justice. Using the formal courts in Kenya can be costly, complex, and time consuming for entrepreneurs. For women who are burdened with their multiple responsibilities in the household and at work and who do not have the know-how to navigate the government process, dealing with the complicated and often corrupt bureaucracy is another reason for avoiding the process.
More reading can be found in Business Training in Kenya
Conclusion on Women Entrepreneurs in Kenya
Women Entrepreneurs in Kenya need to go for training programs in order to know how to run their businesses well.
Micro finance institutions should portray a non gender based environment in order to stimulate Women Entrepreneurs in Kenya to do business with them.
City Council officials should refrain from harassing women in business.
Women Entrepreneurs in Kenya should be taught on the value of being independent. This will stimulate them to do things on their own like acquiring property.
With the information provided above one is able to understand more about Women Entrepreneurs in Kenya