Absa Bank Kenya PLC has committed Sh10 billion to fund women-owned small and medium enterprises over the next five years as part its customer value propositions under the new brand.
The women fund is part of the bank’s commitment towards advancing diversity and inclusion by empowering women with financial resources and capacity building to grow their businesses.
Absa Kenya is the listed firm at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) with 50:50 gender parity board.
It stressed further that the money will be availed to women entrepreneurs through the existing banking products including unsecured and secured loans, trade finance, asset finance, property finance and working capital facilities.
Speaking while unveiling the fund, Absa Kenya Managing Director, Jeremy Awori said, while women form over 50 per cent of the local and global population and account for a significant percentage of the SME sector, their participation in the national economic development is often stifled by limited access to credit.
He further said that, we are confident that this proposition, coupled with the additional interventions we continue to make, will go a long way in boosting their growth”.
The fund was announced during a Women in Business Forum organised in conjunction with the International Trade Centre (ITC) as part of the SheTradesKE Programme.
Also, the bank announced the launch of the No Frills Loan, a new proposition designed to speed up the turn-around-time for processing loans.
Under the new proposition, the bank committed to processing SME loans of up to Sh3 million within 48 hours, from application to having the money in your account.
Awori further explained that, “As an organisation, our purpose is to bring possibilities to life, and we do this by connecting peoples’ dreams and aspirations to the financial resources and services they need to accomplish them”.
According to ITC, women-led SMEs represent 20 percent of the businesses involved in international trade. Through the SheTrades initiative, ITC is planning to bring more than 3 million women led businesses to market by 2021.
Absa Kenya is targeting to empower more than 10,000 women in the SME sector with the skills and resources through the SheTradesKE programme.
So far, more than 3 500 Kenyan women have benefited from the programme through mentorship, training and capacity building conducted via Webinar, face to face interactions and workshops.