On 25 February 2021, ITC and the Kenya Export Promotion & Brand Agency (KEPROBA) launched the Business Support Organization Directory for women entrepreneurs in Kenya.
In January 2019, ITC carried out a survey among women-owned businesses in the four SheTrades Commonwealth target countries of Nigeria, Ghana, Bangladesh, and Kenya, to ascertain women-owned businesses’ awareness of business support organization services.
Feedback from the businesses highlighted key gaps and issues in the business support ecosystem for women entrepreneurs, which revolve around:
· Relatively low visibility of business support organizations among women entrepreneurs;
· Lack of clarity and transparency of business support organization services available to women entrepreneurs;
· Accessibility as a recurring issue, with many women entrepreneurs not knowing how to approach business support organizations for support.
The BSO Directory is therefore explicitly designed to bridge this gap between women entrepreneurs’ needs and existing or new business support organization services available to them.
Dr Wilfred Marube, CEO of KEPROBA, welcomed the Directory launch: ‘This directory provides a one-stop-catalogue of valuable information on business support organizations in Kenya to help bridge the information gap that exists among women entrepreneurs and their access to services. Our agency is keen to ensure that information on opportunities for funding, market access, capacity building, business planning, among others, is available through the Directory and will benefit women exporters in Kenya’.
‘The directory will be instrumental in enhancing networking and collaboration and forging partnerships for the growth of our member companies’, added Chairlady of Ubunifu Kenya Association, Ms Grace Mbugua.
A digital version of the Business Support Organization Directory can be accessed via KEPROBA’s website. Physical copies of the Directory are also available for collection at the KEPROBA office.
The Business Support Organization Directory is developed by KEPROBA in partnership with the SheTrades Commonwealth project. It contains information about over 40 business support organizations in Kenya.
‘As a Business Support Organization, we build on partnerships with other business support organizations in Kenya and beyond to bring services closer to women. This Business Support Organization Directory is a first step towards realising this. We look forward to partnering with relevant business support organizations to empower more women entrepreneurs in the country’, said Ms Christine Sitawa, Manager of Partnerships at KEPROBA.
Classified by sector, the Directory is an online repository featuring:
· Essential information about business support organizations and services offered, such as general services or trainings available;
· Initiatives and services targeted at women-owned businesses;
· A section dedicated to COVID-19, which offers trusted and updated information on various institutional initiatives to support women-owned businesses
The launch of the Business Support Organization Directory with KEPROBA follows from similar launches in Bangladesh with the SME Foundation, Ghana with the National Board of Small Scale Industries, and Nigeria with the Nigeria Export Promotion Council in the previous year.
Engagement with business support organizations is a key engine of the SheTrades Commonwealth’s project’s approach to promoting a sustainable and gender-inclusive business ecosystem in its target countries.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the project, which is funded by the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, developed a COVID-19 Crisis Management Toolkit to support women-owned businesses with assessing the crisis’ impact on their businesses, developing strategies to mitigate effects of the pandemic, and redesigning their business models to seize opportunities in the post-COVID landscape. The Commonwealth project also delivered a series of Training-of-Trainers workshops to business support organizations in Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria to promote use of the Toolkit among business support organization members.