Absa Bank Kenya targets to impact over 1 million women entrepreneurs over the next five years with a new proposition that offers financial and non-financial solutions designed to accelerate business growth.
The Absa She Business Account is targeted to women in business, particularly those in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) segment of the economy. The proposition is built on four key pillars; Access to Finance, Access to Market, Access to Information as well as Access to Mentorship and Coaching.
Under Access to Finance pillar, women entrepreneurs will have access to unsecured lending of up to KES10 million, payable over 5 years for existing borrowers, and KES7 million for new borrowers payable in 4 years. A grace period of up to 60 days will be granted on a case-by-case basis. In addition, the proposition will offer mentorship and coaching, business advisory and online training to women business owners, equipping them with critical financial and non-financial best practice skills useful in taking their business to the next.
Speaking at the launch event, Absa Kenya Managing Director Jeremy Awori said the new proposition is in line with the Bank’s commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion in access to financial resources and would go a long way in addressing historic challenges that face women entrepreneurs.
“If we do not do anything about these structural challenges, we are setting ourselves up for failure as a country. Inclusion is not just a nice thing to do, it is the right thing to do and a key success factor that the business community and country leadership should embrace. That is the motivation behind the Absa She Business Account which is tailor made for the needs of the woman entrepreneur, whether you are starting out in business or running a big corporation. What makes this proposition even more exciting is that it is packaged in a way that offers more value than just financial solutions,” Mr. Awori said.
Presiding over the launch event, Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs, Prof. Margaret Kobia lauded Absa for its efforts in championing women empowerment programmes and called upon more organizations to facilitate similar forums for the realization of Sustainable Development Goals of Reduced Equalities and Gender Equality.
“My ministry remains committed to continued engagement with the private sector and other strategic partners in building back a stronger economy that puts women, young people, Persons with Disability and other disadvantaged groups at the heart of the economic recovery strategies for greater investments and growth directed at women.” noted Prof Kobia.
A report published by the Central Bank of Kenya in 2018 indicates that there are 517,000 registered women owned businesses, 33% of which are small and medium enterprises in Kenya. A further study by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) estimates that over 70 per cent of women-led SMEs across every region are either financially unserved or underserved.
Absa Business Banking Director Elizabeth Wasunna said, “The introduction of the Absa She Business proposition reflects our gender and economic diversity as we seek to provide integrated offerings for women-led businesses which have incredible growth potential. As a financial partner our purpose is bringing possibilities to life, and we are re-dedicating ourselves to empowering businesswomen in Kenya with information to help them not only succeed but also scale up their businesses to the next level.’’
The bank will partner with various institutions including the International Trade Centre (ITC), Kenya National Chambers of Commerce and Industries, Kenya Association of Manufacturers, Development Finance Institutions, corporate customers, among other institutions, to scale the impact of both financial and non-financial interventions. Through these partnerships, Absa She Business account will offer online Workshops and seminars that address gaps in business, management and leadership skills, wealth management, among others.
“We need to encourage as many entrepreneurs as possible to register their businesses, formalize their operations and maintain good records of their transactions. These are important factors that determine entrepreneurs’ ability to attract investment, credit, and other business opportunities. These lessons are an integral part of our new proposition and I encourage you all to talk to us as you sign up,” Ms Wasunna said.
This proposition also provides insurance cover for all insurable business risks as well as medical and motor insurance at competitive rates. Last year, Absa announced a Sh10 billion credit to women-owned small and medium enterprises as well as partnered with the International Trade Centre to enable women businesses participate in the global export/import trade. Today more than 8500 women have benefited from this program.