Absa Bank Kenya PLC has today announced a Kshs 10 billion fund to advance credit to women-owned small and medium enterprises over the next five years as part of the new customer value propositions under the Absa 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.
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.
“Women form over 50% of the local and global population and account for a significant percentage of the SME sector. However, their participation in the national economic development is often stifled by limited access to financial resources and social-cultural restrictions. We are confident that this proposition, coupled with the additional interventions we continue to make, will go a long way in boosting their growth,” Absa Bank Kenya Managing Director Jeremy Awori said.
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 which the bank has been implementing in Kenya over the last four years.
Additionally, the bank announced the launch of the Wezesha Express, a new proposition designed to speed up the turn-around-time for processing loans. Under this proposition, the bank committed to processing SME loans of up to Kes 3 million within 48 hours, from application to having the money in your account.
“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. As such, we are committed to continue actively contributing to the development of women-owned enterprises because they play a significant in driving economic growth and creating jobs,” Mr Awori said.
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.
In Kenya, the SheTradesKE programme aims to empower more than 10,000 women in the SME sector with the skills and resources they need to effectively compete on the global stage. So far, more than 3 500 Kenyan women have benefitted from the programme through mentorship, training and capacity building conducted via Webinar, face to face interactions and workshops.
Mr Awori said that the SheTradesKE programme aligns well with the bank’s overall commitment to continue offering relevant financial solutions to SMEs under the Absa brand.
“We have revamped our SME Wezesha Biashara to provide unsecured loans of up to KES10m with a repayment tenor of up to 6 years; LPO financing; invoice discounting of up to KES50 million and up to KES10 million in unsecured bid bonds with a turnaround time of up to 2 hours. These propositions are designed taking into considerations the challenges facing women entrepreneurs and will go a long way in facilitating their trade,” Mr Awori said.
“In addition, we offer advisory services as well as networking and international benchmarking opportunities through our Absa Business Club.”