In recognition of International Women’s Day, The Coca-Cola Company and Kenya’s Women Enterprise Fund (WEF) today announced that almost 200,000 Kenyan women have now participated in a joint women’s economic empowerment program which was first introduced in early 2014. The initiative also represents the single largest global program in Coca-Cola’s 5by20 effort to economically empower five million women worldwide by 2020. With 199,120 women beneficiaries to date, the initiative will now enter a new phase with a new curriculum for participants and an additional 1 million Kenyan Shillings donation from Coca-Cola to meet the ambition of helping support more than 500,000 women by 2019.
The public-private partnership aims to address and remove barriers that women may experience in creating economic opportunity by providing access to loans and grants to enable them to start the business. Participants in the program also receive business skills training, financial services, assets including coolers, marketing materials and products as well as providing access to peer networks through a business club for mentoring and ideas sharing. By the end of 2016, 199,120 Kenyan women had participated in the Shopkeeper Training and Resources (STAR) program throughout Kenya following an initial pilot program undertaken with just 140 women.
Women Enterprise Fund representatives were initially trained by the Coca-Cola team to deploy business skills training through the WEF offices, thereby reaching women throughout Kenya. WEF also provided the capacity for financial loans in order to enable the women undergoing training to establish sustainable businesses. It is estimated that Kenyan women account for 20% spending on grocery and household goods, therefore ensuring the program is helping create new economic opportunities for both participants and for their local communities.
The Women Enterprise Fund is a Kenyan parastatal organization that seeks to empower women through the provision of credit and capacity building. Formed in 2007, the Women’s Enterprise Fund aims to empower one million women in Kenya by 2019. Additional partners in the golden triangle initiative that brings together capabilities from across the private sector, public sector and civil society include Hand in Hand International, Export Promotion Council, UN Women and Jomo Kenyatta University.
“Overcoming the stubborn and numerous barriers that exist for women in capturing economic opportunity can make a tremendous difference both to individual lives but also in supporting regional economic growth,” said Dr Susan Mboya-Kidero, Group Director for women’s economic empowerment, The Coca-Cola Company. “We are truly inspired by the passion of our partners and the 200,000 women who have participated in this 5by20 program to date, and we are delighted to be expanding this program to help fulfil the dreams of even more remarkable Kenyan women over the next three years.”
Having participated in the program, Seline Achieng of Lurambi Hope Women Group was previously a small scale trader, and started selling sodas to boost her income from the retail shop. Currently, Ms. Achieng is planning to expand her business to Busia County by opening a distributor store. She says “I have been able to increase my stock and pay school fees for the orphan relatives who are under my care, I am a dignified woman through the support I have received from WEF.”
“Women form the cornerstone of our communities across the length and breadth of Kenya, and we are committed to ensuring they have access to the expertise, education and support that will allow them to prosper and succeed in business,” said Eng. Charles Mwirigi, CEO, Women Enterprise Fund. “We are extremely encouraged by the positive progress we have made with The Coca-Cola Company and other partners to date in transforming the lives of almost 200,000 women throughout Kenya and are excited to see how this program will continue to expand over the next two years.”
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