Anthony M. Wanjohi:
One major question we should pose is: what measures should be adopted to resolve issues facing women enterprises? The following are key measures that can help in addressing the challenges: measures skewed towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), establishment of the gender commission in the Ministry of Gender, Sports, Culture and Social Services and other measures.
Measures skewed towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – To overcome some of the constraints facing women, the MDGs were adopted by all world governments as a blueprint for building a better world in the twenty-first century, including full participation of women and men in social and economic development (UN, 2008). This has not been fully realized in Kenya. The MDGs were expected to promote poverty reduction, education, maternal health, gender equality and combat child mortality, AIDS and other diseases.
Other efforts that support the MDGs are being undertaken by the Kenyan Government. They include enactment of new constitution, amendment of the inheritance laws to allow women to inherit land and property and amendment of the Children’s Act. While gender equality is, in its own right, a millennium development goal (MDG No. 3), increasing research indicates that gender equality is essential to meet all MDGs, including empowerment of women to participate more in economic growth activities, such as Micro and Small Enterprises (ILO, 2008).
Establishment of the gender commission in the Ministry of Gender, Sports, Culture and Social Services – The Kenyan Government has institutionalized its commitment to addressing gender inequalities by creating a National Gender Commission mandated to establish gender desks in all government ministries. The Sessional Paper No. 5 of 2005 provided a framework for the operationalization of gender mainstreaming in policy, planning and programming in Kenya. Kenya is one of the few African countries with an active local chapter of the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) in the private sector. Indeed, encouragement from OWIT promoted the creation of the Gender Unit in the Ministry of Trade and Industry (ILO, 2008).
Other measures – There are various other measures that can be taken to address the challenges facing women SMEs today. These include but may not be limited to supporting women entrepreneurs with business development services like training, business advisory and marketing services, opening various channels of accessing funds with low interest rates. The government should also put in place favourable policies, proper transport networks to enhance social mobility, enhanced security, smoothening the process of ownership of property and getting permits.
For successful women’s entrepreneurship in Kenya, women’s participation in politics, decision-making positions, economics and social administration must be improved so that factors inhibiting their participation in Small and Medium Enterprises can be clearly isolated and addressed.
ILO (2008). Factors affecting Women Entrepreneurs in Micro and Small Enterprises in Kenya. Geneva: International Labour Organization.
UN (2008). The Millenium Develoment Goals Report. New York: United Nations