WomenWork Network, Mastercard Foundation Launch Rebuild Program – Emergency Loans for Kenyan Women-owned Businesses

WomenWork in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation has launched Rebuild, a program that offers emergency loans and business expertise to women entrepreneurs in Kenya.  The Rebuild Program includes an emergency interest-free short-term working capital loan for businesses, expert-driven business training and support from an engaging peer community of other women entrepreneurs – all delivered online.

This is the first time that WomenWork is running such an initiative in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation in Kenya. The emergency loan facility is aimed at providing a soft landing against COVID-19 which has disproportionately affected women-owned businesses. 

The Rebuild business support loans for women-owned businesses by WomenWork is part of the Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program including three other organisations, with technical support from the Grassroots Business Fund and 4G Capital.

The commitment of Kenya Shillings 1.5 billion from the Mastercard Foundation to help to cushion the economy in Kenya will be channeled through four lead partner organisations in support of a series of interventions that will facilitate business continuity for over 25,000 Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises with less than ten employees and a turn-over below Kenya Shillings 500,000.  The loans are primarily targeted at businesses owned and run by the youth, particularly young women such as those in the WomenWork network. 

The short-term emergency loans are for job protection and working capital payable in two months with no interest, collateral or fees to enable the businesses to survive through the pandemic and beyond. The eligibility for the loans includes an outline of the proposed use of funds and the ability to repay. Individual businesses will access loans starting from a minimum of Kenya Shillings 31,200. Borrowers can apply for additional emergency loans after repayment of the first one. 

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“The Rebuild Program is an exciting and significant milestone in the history of our organization. It provides us the opportunity to offer the much-needed support to our community of women entrepreneurs who are facing significant challenges arising from the effects of COVID-19 and have either closed or are at the point of almost closing. We hope that our emergency funding will enable women to survive these devastating effects of COVID-19 on their businesses, and hopefully, protect against imminent job losses and stabilize their businesses through this period”, said Asha Mweru, Co-founder WomenWork Network.

Daniel Hailu, Regional Head Eastern and Southern Africa, Mastercard Foundation added, “Even in ordinary times, women-owned businesses face difficulties accessing lines of credit. These challenges have been exacerbated by COVID-19; a pandemic which generally and fundamentally threatens progress on gender equality. We all need to take extraordinary measures in response, becoming even more intentional about supporting women-led enterprises and safeguarding the jobs they create. That is the driving impetus for this collaboration with WomenWork, who we are glad to welcome as a new partner.”

The loan facility is open to businesses across all sectors that are operational in Kenya for at least six months and have 51% or more women shareholding, 50 employees or less, and generate revenues of up to five million Kenya Shillings per annum.

Successful applicants of the Rebuild Program by WomenWork in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation will receive the emergency funds directly to their mobile money accounts. 

In addition to the funding, program participants will not only receive a business needs assessment and be able to address any gaps with business experts but also join a network of diverse women entrepreneurs for peer support. Building off of the existing #WomenWorkKE Facebook group, all aspects of the program will be delivered online to meet the changing needs and preferences of women entrepreneurs.

Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Media
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