Women demand more access to capital, State tenders

Rachael Shebesh (left) and Kirinyaga County Governor Anne Waiguru during the forum [Beverlyne Musili, Standard]
Lack of access to capital has been cited as the biggest hindrance to the empowerment of women.

Speakers at a forum in Nairobi yesterday said providing capital to women at the grassroots, easing bureaucratic bottlenecks that keep them from starting businesses, and getting markets for their produce are the ways to truly empower them.

The forum, presided over by Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, also challenged the Government to set up more avenues to provide capital to women besides initiatives such as the Uwezo Fund and the Women Enterprise Fund.

“While these funds are good, women in rural areas are still locked out by a lot of bureaucratic bottlenecks in accessing them. These are the challenges that keep them from being able to run their households financially,” said Ms Waiguru.

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She also explained that the Access to the Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) initiative was a good idea, but that a lot still needed to be done if women were to get their fair share of tenders.

Mary Muthoni, the chairperson of Women in Business, a national lobby for businesswomen, expressed concern at the low uptake of State tenders by women through AGPO despite more public awareness.

“Last year, there was Sh200 billion worth of State tenders under AGPO, but only Sh50 billion was taken up,” she said.

Lawyer Eunice Lamallas called for court action to safeguard against abuse of the two-thirds gender rule.

kenyan womenInternational Women’s Daystate tenderswomen enterprise funduwezo fund