WomenWork and Mastercard launch reconstruction program to provide emergency loans to Kenyan women-owned businesses

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Two female entrepreneurs, Isis Nyong’o and Asha Mweru got together in 2017 and started WomenWork after realizing that talented women in Africa are deliberately slowing down, starting micro-businesses or completely withdrawing from the formal economy due to bias. structural and unique challenges hampering their growth prospects


WomenWork in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation launched Rebuild, a program that provides emergency loans and business expertise to women entrepreneurs in Kenya. WomenWork, founded in Kenya, describes itself as a ‘technology-driven company that focuses on advancing African women entrepreneurs through peer-to-peer digital communities, improving knowledge and access to capital to improve their chances of success‘.

The reconstruction program includes a short-term interest-free emergency working capital loan for businesses, expert-led business training, and support from an engaging peer community of other women entrepreneurs, all offered in line.

This is the first time that WomenWork has led such an initiative in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation in Kenya. The emergency loan facility aims to provide a soft landing against COVID-19 which has disproportionately affected women-owned businesses.

WomenWork says the Mastercard Foundation’s 1.5 billion Kenyan shillings pledge to help cushion Kenya’s economy will be channeled through four key partner organizations in support of a series of interventions that will facilitate business continuity. activities of more than 25,000 micro, small and medium enterprises. Companies with less than ten employees and whose turnover is less than KES. 500,000. Loans are mainly intended for businesses owned and managed by young people, especially young women such as those in the company network.

Short-term emergency loans are for job protection and working capital payable in two months with no interest, collateral or fees to help businesses survive the pandemic and beyond. Loan eligibility includes an overview of the proposed use of funds and repayment capacity. Individual businesses will have access to loans from a minimum of KES. 31,200. Borrowers can apply for additional emergency loans after the first repayment.

“The Rebuild program is an exciting and significant milestone in the history of our organization. This gives us the opportunity to provide much needed support to our community of women entrepreneurs who are facing significant challenges arising from the effects of COVID-19 and who have closed or are about to close. We hope that our emergency funding will allow women to survive these devastating effects of COVID-19 on their businesses and hopefully protect themselves against impending job losses and stabilize their businesses during this time ”, said Asha Mweru, co-founder of WomenWork.

“Even in ordinary times, women-owned businesses have difficulty accessing lines of credit. These challenges have been exacerbated by COVID-19; a pandemic that generally and fundamentally threatens progress on gender equality. We all need to take extraordinary action in response, becoming even more determined to support women-led businesses and safeguard the jobs they create. This is the driving force behind this collaboration with WomenWork, which we are happy to welcome as a new partner, ”said Daniel Hailu, Regional Manager East and Southern Africa, Mastercard Foundation.

The loan facility is open to companies from all sectors that have been operational in Kenya for at least six months and have 51% or more female shares, 50 employees or less, and generate income of up to five million. Kenyan shillings per year.

Successful applicants to WomenWork’s Rebuild program in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation will receive emergency funds directly into their mobile money accounts.

In addition to funding, program participants will not only receive a business needs assessment and be able to fill gaps with business experts, but they will also join a network of diverse women entrepreneurs for peer support. . Building on the existing #WomenWorkKE Facebook group, all aspects of the program will be offered online to meet the changing needs and preferences of women entrepreneurs.


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