The business case for empowering women entrepreneurs, particularly for the critical role they play as drivers of economic growth and job creation, has strengthened over the past decade. However, evidence suggests that the number of barriers faced by women entrepreneurs is often significantly higher than those experienced by their male counterparts.
To help women entrepreneurs overcome these barriers, Business Partners International has partnered with MEDA, an international economic development organisation that creates business solutions to poverty, to implement a project dubbed the Second Chance Success. Through the project, the two partners seek to improve the prospects of success for women in business by offering gender-smart training and technical assistance to them.
MEDA is targeting women entrepreneurs in Kenya and Rwanda who require further training and development in order to qualify for financing from a formal lender. The two partners have set aside about USD300,000 and are targeting to transform the lives of about 67 women entrepreneurs. Training commenced in July 2020 and will run through to August 2021.
After training, the women entrepreneurs will get a ‘second chance’ window of opportunity to re-apply for finance, which will be financed through a combination of project and private investment funds.
At the end of the programme, Business Partners International and MEDA will compare the success rates for these “second chance” clients against businesses who were successful with their first application.
“We will work with MEDA to understand if and how systematic bias and discrimination might be working against building and financing successful women-owned businesses,” says Matt Cumming the Regional Investment Manager for BPI and Project lead for the Second Chance Programme. This is in line with the sustainable development agenda that seeks the push for greater gender equality and women’s empowerment.
At the end of the project, the partners anticipate they will make a critical contribution to the gender-lens investing field by demonstrating both the business case for and the efficacy of approaches to finance women entrepreneurs.
“We believe the success of this project can build the confidence of investors in women entrepreneurs. Ultimately, greater investor confidence will lead to increased capital flows to women-owned businesses and investment vehicles that employ a gender lens,” MEDA concludes.