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Women Enterprise Fund in Kenya: How to Apply and Get it

By Oluchukwu Ikemefuna

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The Women Enterprise Fund (WEF loan) is a semi-autonomous government agency under the Ministry of Public Service, Youth, and Gender Affairs.

 It was founded in August 2007 with the goal of assisting women in starting and growing businesses that will generate wealth and jobs by offering them accessible and affordable credit (WEF, 2007). It is common to undervalue the contribution that entrepreneurship and an entrepreneurial culture make to social and economic advancement. 

But as time has gone on, it has become more and more clear that entrepreneurship does in fact support economic growth. However, males own a sizable portion of businesses (International Labour Organisation (ILO), 2006). In the past, it was not typical to see women-owned enterprises worldwide, especially in poor countries. Women entrepreneurs are a relatively new idea and practice. 

Therefore, the Kenyan government established the WEF loan to assist women who are over the age of 18, meaning that any woman, whether she is an individual or a member of a group, is eligible to apply (Karuoya, 2009). At the most basic level, it improves family lives, but at deeper and bigger levels, it builds up national wealth. 

As part of its Vision 2030 initiative, the Kenyan government has been attempting to close the gender pay gap by giving women financial support to increase their earnings and narrow the difference between the estimated earned incomes of men and women.

An overview of the WEF loan is given in this article, which covers the following topics: Products and Services, Eligibility, WEF loan Requirements, WEF loan application form and Achievements and Difficulties Faced.

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Products and Services Offered in the WEF loan

The WEF loan provides a variety of goods and services to increase the income and social empowerment of women. The Tuinuke Loan is the most popular loan type that WEF loan provided to female entrepreneurs. Other loan types are also available.

1. Tuinuke loan

This is a financing programme offered at the constituency level through registered women’s groups that are interested in growing or launching new enterprises. It is also known as the Constituency Women Enterprise Scheme (CWES) (WEF, 2016). 

This loan has a one-month grace period, no interest, and a 5% administration charge. The loanees get the loan amounts, the graduation principle, and the repayment schedule. The loan application forms can be obtained at no cost from WEF loan Main HeadQuarters, regional offices located in each province, and online at the Fund’s website.

2. LPO Financing

Another credit product that WEF loan provides to help women is Local Purchase Order Financing (LPO Financing), which enables them to react to and properly service tenders, thereby satisfying supply requirements. Individual women owners or women-owned businesses are eligible for the financing (WEF, 2016).

3. Bid Bond Financing/Tender Security

This credit product was created by WEF loan to help Kenyan women meet the requirements of the tendering procedure. Individual women who may own businesses or women-owned corporations issued at the WEF headquarters may purchase the goods. The bid bonds are now provided to women within Nairobi County and its surrounds.

4. Capacity Building

This is an additional product that the WEF loan Fund offers. WEF loan builds the capacity of women entrepreneurs by using the volunteerism concept. The volunteers are based at the constituency level and have a variety of responsibilities, such as recruiting, training, and supervising women in their projects and loan repayments.

The training curriculum includes topics like business skills, market access, and basic ICT skills. The volunteers are also responsible for leading the trainings of women in their group.

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Market Support and Linkages

Market assistance is crucial for the growth and general success of women owned firms in Kenya. The failure of numerous firms with great promise can be attributed to their inability to reach the appropriate markets for their offerings.

The WEF loan Fund supports women-owned businesses through two primary roles, which are as follows: assisting small, female-owned businesses in connecting with larger, established businesses or organizations for commercial and mentoring purposes, as well as in promoting their goods and services in local, regional, and global markets. In order to do this, WEF loan has used the following tactics:

  • Organizing and/or participating in organized marketing events such as trade fairs, exhibits, conventions/conferences and road shows. Most of these marketing events take place in Kenya. They provide a platform for networking, product promotion, and networking for female entrepreneurs.
  • promoting commercial connections for mentoring and business between large, established private companies and small, women-owned businesses and government organizations. These collaborations allow the female entrepreneurs to trade and learn from the existing business or organization. The connections can be made through subcontracting, outsourcing, selling to the government, franchising, business development training programmes, and business mentorship.

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WEF Loan Requirements and Eligibility 

1. CWES, or the Constituency Women Enterprise Scheme

The following prerequisites must be met in order to meet the WEF loan requirements needed to obtain a loan:

  • Must be a legally recognised self-help group with ten or more members, all of whom must be women, or 70% women and 30% males.
  • Women must occupy all leadership roles and signatories on accounts.
  • must be in operation for at least three months and have an account in one of the following: Bank, SACCO FOSA, Post Bank, or Deposit Taking Microfinance (DTM).
  • The WEF loan officials must provide groups with training in company management techniques before they can submit a loan application.

2. LPO financing, or local purchase order financing

In order to be eligible for the LPO financing WEF loan product, the following conditions must be fulfilled to meet the WEF loan requirements:

  • The business needs to be registered with the appropriate government agency.
  • At least 70% of the members of partnerships, businesses, and groups must be women and 30% must be men (or 100% women).
  • a legitimate Local Purchase Order, or Local Service Order, officially endorsed and stamped by the public institutions or procuring agency (public procurement and disposal legislation specified).
  • Kshs. 2 million is the maximum loan amount that may be taken out for any individual borrower.
  • a properly executed Letter of Undertaking and appropriate collateral in accordance with the Fund’s Credit Policy. A car, shares, or bank guarantee are acceptable forms of collateral.
  • Details of a customer’s account.
  • A one-time administration charge equal to 5% of the loan principal.
  • 90-day term of tenure.
  • a certified copy of the letter sent by the borrower/supplier to the purchasing organisation asking for payment under the WEF loan fund.
  • Half of the LPO amount is the amount financed.

3. Requirements for eligibility to bid bonds financing:

  • completing the application for a bid bond
  • Commission payment (original bank slip required)
  • Terms and conditions for indemnity (as stated in the application form) must be signed by the borrower.
  • Bid and tender security are issued.

Terms and conditions for the bid bonds

According to the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, the following public procuring institutions are targeted by this provision: public hospitals, government ministries, SAGAs, public schools, county governments, the judiciary, and the national assembly.

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Accomplishments of the WEF loan

Since its founding, the WEF loan has had a positive impact on the economy and the lives of many Kenyans. Although the fund has many success stories, the following highlights some of WEF’s more notable accomplishments:

1. Tushibe Mtama Woman Group

This group is situated in the Rongai constituency of Nakuru. In 2009, they obtained their first WEF loan of Kshs. 50,000, which they utilised to purchase an oven and launch their business, which involved baking cakes, cookies, and buns using sweet potato flour and tubers. 

Take note that they don’t have to pay for sweet potatoes because they grow them on their property. The market and demand for their products had grown, therefore they multiplied their grape plantations with the second loan of Kshs 100,000. 

A shop was opened at the Menengai retail centre, which is located close to Rongai, using the third loan of Kshs. 200,000. A loan of Kshs. 500,000 was subsequently obtained, and it was effectively used to operate and maintain the business.

The organisation was able to create product labels and packaging, register with KEBS, and enable its members to support their families and improve their standard of living.

2. Twihehinya Widows Group

With fifteen ladies as members at the time of its founding in 2007, it was started by widows. Having faced similar obstacles in life, the members got together and made the decision to establish a group. 

Their belief was that it would be beneficial for them to grow and get past some of the difficulties they were facing as widows if they helped each other through difficult times and simply supported one another. The organisation obtained a 50,000 initial loan after joining the Women Enterprise Fund in 2009. 

Ten members who had joined and were actively participating at the time received half of this money. They purchased a sheep for every homestead. Following that, they asked for loans totaling 100,000, 200,000, and finally 350,000.

Each member owned a sizable herd of cattle from which they sold milk to a nearby dairy. They also engaged in extensive large-scale corn planting. They were also able to pay for their children’s and grandchildren’s education thanks to the loan.

Owing to its substantial influence on the lives of these women’s organisations, the WEF loan has been widely acknowledged and commended for its beneficial contributions. 

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Challenges Encountered by WEF

Even with all of its successes, WEF loans will undoubtedly continue to encounter numerous obstacles in carrying out its mission across the nation. There are two levels of difficulty. The difficulties that the borrower faces are at level one, and the lender’s difficulties are at level two. The borrower is confronted with four main challenges: insufficient capital, intense competition, additional responsibility, and instability.

  • The largest obstacle for the women taking out the loan is insufficient capital. Many of the women who applied for the loan products said that the microcredit they were given was insufficient for the business endeavour they would have liked to start. As a result, the original investment plan was changed to include entirely different choices.
  • High levels of competition present another difficulty for female borrowers. Numerous female borrowers operated comparable companies offering interchangeable goods and services.
  • Due to additional demanding duties, women entrepreneurs might not have enough time to manage their firms.
  • One of the biggest issues women confront when managing their small companies (SMEs) is insecurity.

The lender’s obstacles make up the second degree of difficulties. Among the difficulties they face are:

  • Ministry/Cabinet Funds Disbursement Delays: Occasionally, the Ministry of Finance experiences delays in distributing funds to the constituents. 
  • Women who borrow money are largely illiterate: Many female entrepreneurs were unable to keep accurate records because they did not possess even a basic level of literacy.
  • WEF loan is confronted with the issue of insufficient field staff. Officers from the WEF served wide regions and many constituencies from their regional offices. 

WEF loan application form

The Women Enterprise Fund WEF loan application form is a document that individuals fill out when they apply for financial support from the Women Enterprise Fund in Kenya. 

1. Personal Information

The WEF loan application form would likely request personal details such as name, date of birth, gender, marital status, national ID number, physical address, email address, and phone number.

2. Business Details

Applicants may be asked to provide information about their business, including the business name, type of business, business location, registration details (if applicable), business operating period, and number of employees.

3. Loan Details

The WEF loan application form would include sections for applicants to specify the desired loan amount, purpose of the loan (e.g., business expansion, working capital), and proposed utilization plan for the loan funds.

4. Financial Information

Applicants may need to provide details about their monthly or annual income, estimated turnover, existing loans or financial obligations, and any collateral available to secure the loan.

5. Banking Information

The form will include a section for applicants to provide their bank account details for loan disbursement and repayment purposes.

6. Business Plan

The WEF loan application form may require applicants to submit a brief business plan outlining the nature of the business, target market, products or services offered, marketing strategy, competitive analysis, and financial projections.

7. Declaration

Applicants may need to sign a declaration confirming the accuracy of the information provided, agreeing to the terms and conditions of the loan, and consenting for the Women Enterprise Fund to conduct credit checks and verify the information provided.

FAQs

Who is eligible to apply for the Women Enterprise Fund?

Eligible applicants for the Women Enterprise Fund are Kenyan women aged 18 years and above with viable business ideas or existing businesses in need of financial support. 

What types of financial support does the Women Enterprise Fund offer?

The Women Enterprise Fund offers various financial products, including loans, grants, and capacity-building programs. 

How can I access the Women Enterprise Fund application form?

The Women Enterprise Fund application form can be obtained from the nearest WEF office, Huduma Centre, or downloaded from the official WEF website. 

How long does it take to receive a response after submitting a Women Enterprise Fund application?

The timeline for receiving a response after submitting a Women Enterprise Fund application may vary. Generally, applicants can expect the fund to review and assess their applications within a reasonable timeframe.

Conclusion 

Though there were certain areas where WEF loan still needed to improve in order to have a greater influence on the groups’ commercial performance, overall, WEF loan has helped the women’s organisations across the nation increase the performance of their enterprises. 

The WEF loan must help women invest their microcredit in profitable ventures by means of field officers and social development assistants. This will facilitate repayment and assist women in avoiding default. 

Women entrepreneurs face difficulties due to group disputes resulting from miscommunications; thus, WEF loan ought to restructure the CWES loan programme to enable women to obtain individual loans. The flexibility to invest in business ventures of their choosing will result from this for the borrowers.

Nevertheless, the Women Enterprise Fund has made a significant contribution to both improving gender equality and the nation’s economic growth. The World Economic Forum (WEF) has set the pace for other innovative credit initiatives in the nation, particularly in the private sector, which have eliminated poverty.

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Oluwatobi Olowe
Oluwatobi Olowe

Tobi Olowe has over 3 years of experience as a content writer specializing in Tech discoveries, site optimization, building content that rank well and boosting overall site performance.

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