Absa Bank Kenya has announced its commitment to impact over 1 million women entrepreneurs over the next five years with a new proposition. The new proposition, the Absa She Business Account, offers financial and non-financial solutions designed to accelerate business growth.
The new Account is targeted to women in business, particularly those in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) segment of the economy. It is built on 4 main 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 Ksh. 10 million, payable over 5 years for existing borrowers, and Ksh. 7 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. This training is aimed at equipping them with critical financial and non-financial best practice skills useful in taking their business to the next.
Speaking at the launch, Absa Kenya Managing Director Jeremy Awori said, “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 tailormade for the needs of the woman entrepreneur, whether you are starting out in business or running a big corporation.”
Also present at the launch event was Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs, Prof. Margaret Kobia. The CS lauded Absa for its efforts in championing women empowerment programs, and called upon more organizations to facilitate similar forums for the realization of SDGs 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.
The bank will partner with various institutions including the International Trade Centre (ITC), KNCCI, KAM, 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.
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 Ksh. 10 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 8,500 women have benefited from this program.