By Dominic Kirui
A group of 50 women brought together by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Strathmore Business School are attending a five-day training in agribusiness value addition at the Strathmore University in Nairobi.
The training has stemmed from a survey conducted by the USAID’s Kenya Investment Mechanism, which sought to identify and understand the reasons for low financing of women businesses.
Speaking during the opening of the training session at Strathmore University on July 18, 2022, Eunice Kimeriah, the Women’s Economic Empowerment Director at USAID’s Kenya Investment Mechanism, said that the program involves women from the different value chains, who have a business plan, and who would articulate to some level what they are doing with their businesses.
Through the program, participants will also acquire pitching skills and develop investable pitch decks; and get linked to business advisory service providers and investors.
The session also provides a unique platform to network and learn from other women entrepreneurs, faculty, and industry experts.
Halimabai Salehmohamed, a businesswoman from Mombasa, is optimistic about the training, saying that she hopes to use the skills acquired to expand and improve her spice blends and marginalized business.
“I expect to learn about marketing, finance, and production to help me grow my products to a bigger scale. After this training, my business plan is on product branding, human resources involvement and their rights in helping my business grow,” Salehmohamed says.
For most Kenyan women, access to finance is a major issue, and, according to Ms. Kimeriah, this is why the program is designed to train them on how to pitch their businesses and understand the different finance facilities available for them.
“Another thing is that the businesses needed to have been in existence for at least five years and also with good turnovers, because at Kenya Investment Mechanism, we are thinking of credible businesses that are sustainable and can create jobs for Kenyans,” Kimeriah says.
“Because of our African setting we know up to recently a woman couldn’t actually own land, or even buy and own a car in her name.
And so, one of the challenges we found was the issue of collateral, and also the way the businesses had been set up, because most of these women were trading in their individual names and hadn’t registered them as companies.
We found that women still have a challenge, there is a big gap in terms of access to credit. We realized that most of the banks are not supporting these women, and that is why this training was tailored to make sure we support these women to be investor-ready,” she concludes.
Facilitated by USAID’s Kenya Investment Mechanism, the training program, dubbed “Investing in Agriculture Value Addition”’, is designed to empower women in agribusiness in Kenya with skills to run successful businesses.
“Agriculture for Kenya and the emerging markets is one of the key drivers of the economy. But we export most of our agricultural produce and import back at higher prices because the value addition happens in the countries we export to.
Can we create that capacity here? Do we have the potential? YES, we do! So, this is among the reasons we have partnered with USAID’s Kenya Investment Mechanism to offer this course to these selected women business owners and help them know how they can move beyond just production to value addition,” explains Shadrack Mwangangi, the Director for Executive Education at Strathmore Business School.
Dominic Kirui is a freelance journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. He writes on gender, climate change, access to clean water, food security, culture, conflict, politics, and global development. See his portfolio here https://muckrack.com/dominic-