Susan and I grew up in the same area in Lanet, Nakuru. Our families were friends and gradually, our affection for each other grew strong as well. We were of the same age and pretty much had a similar upbringing. Our parents attended the same church and hung around the same circles. Be that as it may, Susan and I were as different as night and day. I was the serious one; always first to class, never failing to hand in my assignments and rarely got into trouble. She, on the other hand, was rebellious and artsy. Susan was passionate about fashion and design. In high school, she frequently got in trouble for making bold adjustments to her uniform. She simply couldn’t be told what to do.
While others saw Susan as troublesome, I saw a strong-willed young woman who was about the path she wanted her life to take. Shortly after finishing high school we both went our separate ways, in keeping with my serious nature, pursued a career in business management while she enrolled for a course in design. Susan has always been a talented artist and her ability to create beautiful pieces is one that is special, to say the least.
After graduation, she applied for jobs anywhere she could. She had big dreams and working for a renowned company was one of the things on her vision board. I drove Susan to numerous locations around Nairobi for job interviews, all of which never amounted to anything. With her dreams of getting a prestigious job behind a fancy desk now appearing to be far fetched, she moved back to Nakuru and opened a tailor shop where she stitched torn clothes and custom-made outfits for special occasions.
Business was surprisingly good, but she was still in the same small stall, using the same secondhand machines she had started with. Susan was an amazing artist, but she wasn’t as compelling when it came to business. She needed to grow and expand her business but that wasn’t happening. I signed her up for a seminar organized by the Women Enterprise Fund in partnership with the Coca-Cola company.
The partnership between Women Enterprise Fund and Coca-Cola was established back in 2014 to create a fair and equitable environment to help women overcome barriers and build sustainable businesses. Coca-Cola Central, East and Central Africa limited is very interested in this partnership because it aligns with their initiative to empower 5 million women by the year 2020 through business skills training and access to loans. The Women Enterprise Fund (WEF) in support of this incredible vision, have invested 12.6 million shillings towards the project.
In the year 2018, WEF empowered 161,000 women to either start or grow their businesses. Their support includes access to loans, introduction to peer networks for idea sharing and mentorship programmes. The main goal for this partnership is to encourage a level playing field for women by providing them with appropriate expertise and education to help them prosper in business. A total of one million women in Kenya will be beneficiaries of this fund by the year 2020.
The vision of the Women Enterprise Fund is ‘a transformed Kenyan woman contributing to sustainable socio-economic development.’ And the mission is ‘to mobilize resources for sustainable access to affordable financial and business support services to empower Kenyan women.’ Being a government agency, the Fund has received Ksh.4.2 billion from the National Treasury and have disbursed loans totalling Ksh. 15.6 billion to 1.6 million women entrepreneurs countrywide. The Loan Repayment Rate stands at 97%. Repayments can be done through Mpesa mobile money transfer.
After signing up and joining a local group of women that were already benefiting from the fund, Susan went through all the training programs and was mentored on how to come up with a functional saving plan and invest back into her business. A few months later she was able to move to a bigger stall in an area with more business traffic. With the business loan, she bought more fabric and employed an assistant. Things are looking up for Susan and it is all because of the Women Enterprise Fund.
If you are a lady running a business and you would like to benefit from funding you need to head over to the Women Enterprise Fund. Find out more about the Women Enterprise Fund here.
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