AECF launches programme to empower women in Kenya’s blue economy
Nairobi, Kenya – The AECF (Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund) has today launched the Investing in Women in the Blue Economy in Kenya (IIW-BEK) programme, a CAN $ 9.7 million initiative funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC).
The programme aims to support the growth and financing of women and young women-owned Medium and Small Enterprises (SMEs) in non-traditional markets, including those related to conserving and sustaining coastal and lake biodiversity. The programme adopts a collaborative approach involving private and public sectors to promote the sustainability and performance of these enterprises while addressing gender inequalities and social norms that hinder women entrepreneurs. Specifically, the initiative focuses on the Lake Victoria Basin and Indian Ocean regions encompassing Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Tana River, Lamu, Taita Taveta, Busia, Siaya, Kisumu, Homabay, Migori.
The programme targets 110 women-owned enterprises, to create 1,490 direct jobs and benefit 1,560 women entrepreneurs, their employees, suppliers, and producers along key supply chains where women are discriminated against in the blue economy sector in Kenya. The funding will focus on the following focus areas of Kenya’s blue economy – agriculture and forestry, fisheries, productive use of renewable energy, waste management, biodiversity protection, tourism, supply of inputs and services, and social enterprises that reduce the burden of care.
According to a Policy Brief from the United Nations Development Programme, the blue economy in Kenya’s marine and coastal ecosystem is estimated to have an annual economic value of slightly over US$4.4 billion. However, women’s participation in this sector has been limited to casual work in medium-scale businesses. Despite performing work equivalent to that of men, women are consistently paid the lowest wages. Moreover, many women are reluctant to scale their businesses due to a lack of access to capital and information regarding career options for women in the industry.
Victoria Sabula, CEO of the AECF said,
“It is well known that women face significant barriers in accessing funding, technical support, and business capacity development opportunities in the blue economy sector. These barriers have hindered their ability to grow sustainably and fully participate in the economic development of our country. Through the Investing in Women in the Blue Economy in Kenya Programme, we will promote the economic empowerment of women-led enterprises, their suppliers, and producers operating in different value chains in Kenya’s blue economy.”
Christopher Thornely, High Commissioner for Canada in the Republic of Kenya said,
“By promoting the growth and sustainability of enterprises in the blue economy, Kenya can realize its potential for economic growth while preserving its marine resources for future generations. This project is focused on the sustainable management and conservation of marine resources in Kenya through partnerships that promote sustainable fishing practices, protect marine biodiversity and support the growth of the aquaculture sector. Most importantly, it will focus on reducing women entrepreneurs’ barriers in this sector. I am confident that this partnership with the AECF will not only accelerate gender equality – but it will also play a key role in building a sustainable and equitable blue economy that benefits all.”
The IIW-BEK programme will provide evidence-based interventions that support women’s participation in non-traditional sectors of the blue economy. It will also enhance private and public sector engagement and investment through a blended financing model, focussing on increasing sustainability and performance in the sector. AECF will provide performance-based grants and funding in addition to non-financial technical assistance on gender and rights advocacy and access to finance training that ensures women-led Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises succeed.
Note to Editors
AECF (Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund) is a leading non-profit development organization supporting innovative agribusiness and renewable energy enterprises to reduce rural poverty, promote resilient communities, and create jobs.
AECF provides patient capital to highly innovative, early-stage, and growing enterprises that are hidden gems poised for greatness but that struggle to access funding from traditional sources of finance.
To date, we have supported over 400 businesses in 26 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, impacted more than 30 million lives, and created over 29,000 direct jobs,