Absa Bank Kenya has collaborated with the German Development Cooperation to launch a Ksh. 50 million program dubbed SHE Stars. The program is aimed at increasing growth and competitiveness of 1,500 women-owned MSMEs impacted by the COVID-19 economic situation through blended finance and business development services capacity building.
The partnership is under the Employment and Skills for Development in Africa (E4D) Programme. It is commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by the Deutsche GIZ and Absa Bank Kenya.
The SHE Stars project will offer business skills training for 1,500 female entrepreneurs running small businesses in various sectors of the economy. Adopting physical training sessions, online sessions and workshops, the program aims to address business gaps and training needs that women entrepreneurs face. This includes inadequate access to finance, mentorship, information and markets. The analysis of the business impacts of COVID-19 and the development of coping and adaptation measures will be specifically targeted.
The 1,500 SHE Stars will be enrolled in a Technical Business Management Programme facilitated by Yunus Environment Hub under the Absa SHE Business Academy as part of the program. Among other things, the program will cover cash flow analysis, risk management, income diversification, branding, fundraising, leadership, and people management. Absa Bank will also provide loan facilities as part of the training program.
Absa Bank launched its SHE women in business account earlier in May this year, providing access to unsecured loans of up to Ksh. 8 million payable over six years. Through the account, women-owned businesses will be able to access the funds through existing banking products such as unsecured and secured loans, trade finance, asset finance, property finance and working capital facilities.
Speaking during the launch of the partnership, Absa Bank’s Business Banking Director Elizabeth Wasunna said, “Absa Bank is committed to making financial services more accessible and improving financial literacy among women entrepreneurs. We are exploring possibilities that would reduce inequalities within the society so as to enable their economic development.”
On his part, GIZ representative Thomas Jaeschke had this to say, “Women-led businesses in Kenya and beyond have proven multiplier financial effects both on the national economy and on households. This partnership, therefore, aims to address capacity, structural and financial challenges, as well as the impacts of the current pandemic, these MSME’s face to realize their full potential in accelerating these multiplier effects.”