The U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter and Acting Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) John Barsa have announced plans to partner with the private sector and invest in Kenyan women entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses.
“Women must be full participants and leaders in business for Kenya to reach its full economic potential. USA Marafiki recognizes that economic prosperity is essential to Kenya’s future and our top priority is supporting expanded trade and investment ties between our two countries. Women are a tremendous force in our economies and this program will give them the tools to access financial services, supporting our objectives under the W-GDP Initiative,” said Ambassador McCarter.
With an investment of $3 million in W-GDP support, the new W-GDP Investing in Kenyan Women program will mobilize $30 million USD (3.2 billion KSH) in commercial investment and finance for women entrepreneurs in Kenya through USAID’s Kenya Investment Mechanism over the next three years.
The other two activities represent powerful private sector partnerships that will work to empower Kenyan women. A global commitment of $5 million (542 million KSH) for the W-GDP Microsoft Women’s Digital Inclusion Partnership will support Microsoft’s Airband Initiative, which aims to significantly increase the number of women around the world with internet coverage by July 2022 by investing in locally-owned and operated internet and communications technology companies serving rural areas in five countries, including in Kenya.
W-GDP support of $1.4 million (152 million KSH) for the W-GDP Partnership to Train Kenyan Women Entrepreneurs in Collaboration with UPS will help women in Kenya launch, fund, or scale their businesses and build their capacity with a focus on training, mentorship, investment, and direct connections to American small and medium enterprises.
USAID Acting Administrator John Barsa said, “Global prosperity will remain out of reach if we exclude half the population. At USAID, we believe investment in women is key to unlocking human potential on a transformational scale. The W-GDP Fund at USAID is financing innovative solutions to close the economic gap between women and men and help our partners advance on their Journeys to Self-Reliance.”
In addition to the program, W-GDP is supporting Kenyan women through a number of activities to bridge barriers to digital access; enter traditionally male dominated fields such as the energy and water sectors; and train women entrepreneurs to scale their businesses and form direct connections to American small and medium-enterprises.