For Kenyan women, being an entrepreneur is probably one of the toughest things to do. Finding credit is not easy, as banks ask for collateral.
But things could change, thanks to a number of financial institutions that have come up with ways of going around some of the obstacles that women in business face in business.
Credit Bank, for example, is working with several local and international partners. Some are risk participation partnerships that come in handy in de-risking the SMEs, according to Credit Bank CEO Betty Korir.
“We achieve this by looking at various players in the trade transaction and we get a way of assessing the counterparty,” says Ms Korir.
One of the financial institutions that Credit Bank works with is African Guarantee Fund (AGF), a pan-African organization that promotes economic development by providing guarantees to financial institutions financing Small and Medium Enterprises.
African Guarantee Fund Deputy CEO Jules Ngankam says they have spent over one billion dollars in the last six years to support SMEs targeting to improve their business potential.
“We go to the bank to make sure that they unlock the potential financing that they may have for SMES,” Mr Ngankam says. “In our six years of operation, we have been able to issue one billion dollars of guarantee, meaning we were able to unlock two billion dollars of financing towards SMEs and we have done so to 100 plus.”
Efforts by organizations such as the African Guarantee Fund as well as financial institutions such as Credit Bank are paying off. A quick chat with some women who own SMEs gives hope to rising entrepreneurs.
Ms Carol Muriuki is the CEO of Kajeje Limited, which distributes beauty and hair products, attributes her growth to the cordial relationship she has had with Credit Bank
“The first batch of stock was from my own savings but thereafter I needed support from a bank,” Ms Muriuki says. “It’s not easy to get a bank that listens to you and buy into your idea. The first container which I imported full of beauty products was financed by Credit Bank.”
Capital not the problem
Credit Bank has been keen on financing and helping SMEs transition to their next stages by facilitating capacity building among the businesses, helping them develop resilience and operate professionally.
The bank in 2016 launched an E-hub where it trains the entrepreneurs before lending to them.
“Many people argue that the number one challenge facing SMEs is capital but we go beyond that. We have realized that SMEs require training in key areas such as marketing, monitoring of cash flows and turnover as well as human resource,”’ says Ms Pam Mutembei, Head of Business, Credit Bank.