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Empowering women’s groups through business skills training

When women are economically empowered, typically they re-invest in their families future and children’s education. Despite this, many women remain stuck in the informal economy and struggle to break free from intergenerational poverty cycles, without viable opportunities to increase their income, save money and transition away from subsistence living.

88% of Kenya’s 15 million  informal workers are women

international Labour Organisation, 2019

Local Women’s Groups generally include up to 10 women who meet regularly to provide one another support. For independent female business owners, the group is a source of motivation and encouragement with fellow female business owners in their community. Importantly It is also a way for the women to access business capital — through informal lending within the group. So They Can’s Wezesha Business Skills project (WBSP) in Kenya works with these women’s groups, and individuals, to provide business skills training to both new and established business owners.

Our pre-training survey with new WBSP participants in Baringo revealed that:

  • 59% earn less than AUD $100 per month, largely generated through farming activities
  • On average womens’ income is spent mostly on food (54%), and their children’s education costs (30%)
  • Despite low earnings, women save. 41% save up to AUD $10 a month, and 19% save up to AUD $20 a month

Our 3-day Business Skills Training is a great opportunity for women to come together and benefit from knowledge sharing. The training covers a range of topics including developing self-confidence, leadership skills, a business plan, a marketing strategy and saving. Practical skill development, in beadwork, knitting and soap making, is also on offer. All of the women have shared that the opportunity to come together and meet like-minded women, and network, during the training was one of the highlights.

167 women have already participated in training this year alone, learning the fundamental strategies on running a profitable business.

‘Previously, I was bad at saving, but through the training I now understand the importance of it. We learnt ways to manage and increase our savings.’

– Alice, Livestock and Crop Farmer in Nakuru.

‘I want to be able to cater for my household needs. The general  cost of living is on the rise, and I have to support my children’s education. Through the training I learnt effective marketing skills that will increase my income, and improving my monthly savings.’

Teresiah, sells fruit in Nakuru. Her income supports 3 of her 4 children to go to school. She now plans to expand her business and, diversify her income through farming.

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