Kenya - 11 June 2020

Trade topics: Gender and Trade

The Government of Kenya (GOK) has made significant and tremendous progress in addressing inequality and gender equality through the empowerment programmes of vulnerable groups such women, youth, and people living with disabilities (PWD). The country has a very progressive constitution which promotes women economic empowerment. Article 27/8 stipulates that State shall take legislative and other measures, including affirmative action programmes and policies designed to redress any disadvantage suffered by individuals or groups because of past discrimination. The State Department of Gender Affairs is mandated to coordinate project and programmes geared towards gender mainstreaming and women economic empowerment. This includes the establishment of various affirmative action funds through legislation, amendment of the Public Finance Management Act and other policy directives. The purpose of these funds is to provide affordable and accessible credit to women, youth, and persons living with disabilities.
This report is an assessment of the effectiveness of Affirmative Action Funds (Women Enterprise Fund -WEF, Youth Enterprise Development Fund -YEDF and Uwezo Fund) which have been core to the national government’s core transformational and empowerment agenda. The assessment is critical to the national government as it merges and transitions the three affirmative action funds into the Biashara Kenya Fund. The findings are expected to assist the Biashara Kenya Fund Board in the identification of critical areas of success for up-scaling, areas of weaknesses, resource gaps, and inform future planning for Biashara Kenya Fund.
This assessment used qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis methods and triangulation across data collection methods and stakeholder perspectives to assess emerging trends and themes and to ensure the reliability and validity of findings. Primary data collection took place in ten (10) counties. The sample mainly included the beneficiaries of the three affirmative action funds in the respective counties.
It was evident that tremendous success had been realized by the AAFs beneficiaries characterized by: increased access to credit, starting new businesses thus contributing to self-employment with proceeds from the business being utilized to complement school fees; improved food security, investment in business expansion; increased access to local and international markets; and access to business development and entrepreneurship skills that have enabled beneficiaries to actively participate in enterprise development.
Despite the impacts noted, the AAFs face significant challenges and risks that would need to be mitigated against and taken into account in the design of a merged AAFs framework. These include: the low loan amounts available for beneficiaries relative to the mandates, limited human resource capacity available for the administration of the AAF funds, politicization of the AAFs funds that often negatively affects repayment, and the low beneficiary repayment rates.
The study makes recommendation on five themes a)training and mentorship; b) sufficiency of loan amounts; c) legal frameworks and d) improving staffing and coordination, and improving sustainability. It also gives a word of caution on what to look out before the formation of the Biashara Kenya Fund.