Enhancing Opportunities for Women’s Enterprises (EOWE) programme in Narok County

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Kamau Kinyua of Narok County Economic Planing unit, training stakeholders on county policy and budget making processes. This meeting was held on 29th June 2017 at Kims Breeze Hotel. 

SNV in collaboration with Nguzo Africa is implementing “Enhancing Opportunities for Women’s Enterprises (EOWE)” programme in Narok County.  The programme aims at advancing women’s economic participation and self-reliance in Kenya and Vietnam by creating a conducive environment for female entrepreneurship as a vehicle of change. 

While rates of female entrepreneurship are relatively high in both countries, these businesses are often informal, tend to underperform and have a high risk of failure. One explanation for the underperformance is the lack of access to markets. 

The EOWE programme is being implemented between 2016 and 2020 in Kenya and Vietnam, with funding from the Dutch government as part of the Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women (FLOW)  framework and built on the opportunities to be found in strengthening women’s entrepreneurship and leadership as well as improving their access to inputs, assets and markets in the agribusiness sector. 

To ensure significant and lasting change SNV works hand-in-hand with key local partners. In Kenya, one of these partners is Nguzo Africa that serves as Host Partner in implementation of the program in Narok County. 

The EOWE programme is built on the opportunities that lie in strengthening women’s entrepreneurship and improving their access to inputs and business assets in the sectors where the majority of women’s businesses operate: agriculture and renewable energy. Increasing women’s leadership in all spheres of decision-making is essential for advancing women’s influence over issues that affect them, their businesses, and society at large. The programme aims at enhancing dialogue between men and women on a household and community level to create positive change towards more gender equality and shared decision-making. 

The EOWE programme aims to:

  • Increase capacity of government actors to implement and localise female entrepreneurship friendly policies and institutions.
  • Increase capacity of local actors, including Civil Society Organisations to create bottom-up pressure for women’s economic empowerment and leverage existing policy frameworks to enhance the enabling environment. 
  • Challenge gender norms inhibiting women’s access to economic opportunities through behavioural change.
  • Enhance women’s capacity and confidence to lead successful businesses.

The programme achieves these objectives by working with national and local level organisations to implement gender-sensitive laws and initiate advocacy on gender norms. The programme also works with governments at national and county levels to implement gender sensitive policies and with existing. 

It supports women-led enterprises in agriculture and renewable energy value chains for increased business performance as well as with other value chain service providers for access to resources and assets, leadership capacity, financial services, and market integration.

The objectives are achieved in a two-pronged strategy: (1) Enterprise development, and (2) Advocacy and Social Behaviour Change Communication. 

Nguzo Enterprise Development Interventions aim at commercialising women-led small farms

Nguzo Africa is providing agricultural development interventions aimed at commercialising women-owned small farms and agri-enterprises in Narok County. Already 25 women's agri-enterprises have been identified for capacity building, particularly in basic business management, use of new agriculture technologies and farming methods. 

A comprehensive baseline analysis has been carried on all the 25 participating enterprises. The baseline captured details of group members, commodities they produce, age and number of household members and income from their agri-enterprises in previous years. It also captured how these enterprises were accessing finance and inputs. Participating enterprises also provided details on access to markets which indicated that 100% of women producers were selling to local markets mainly through middlemen. The analysis will be used to enhance the capacity of women smallholder farmers to have viable agribusiness that are competitive in modern value chains. 

Subsequently, a training needs assessment was carried out to identify diverse training needs of each enterprise. It was established that more than 70% of women’s enterprises need training on basic business management such as writing business proposals, keeping records, conducting sales and marketing. Others need trainings on how to transform their groups into viable cooperatives and SMEs. Some groups want specific trainings on indigenous poultry production, steer fattening, sheep and goat fattening, pasture production, horticulture farming and disease control. Nguzo Africa will work closely with relevant county departments to offer these trainings. 

To enhance access to finance and credit, a county level workshop was held to link the 25 leaders of the participating women’s enterprises to three (3) Micro Finance Institutions (Musomi, Eclof and Jitegemea), one bank (Chase Bank) and three government finance institutions (Women Enterprise Fund - WEF, Youth Enterprise Development Fund - YEDF and Uwezo Fund). The workshop helped women entrepreneurs to appreciate the immense opportunities available to them to access finance and credit.

Advocacy Interventions: Development of favourable policies at the county level

Smallholder farming is characterized by biased policy regimes that erodes the performance and competitiveness of women farmers. To address this challenge, the programme seeks to work with the county government and likeminded stakeholders to advocate for gender-responsive legal frameworks to catapult growth of women's agribusinesses

To ensure that gender-equitable legal frameworks are implemented in Narok, Nguzo Africa has mapped out key stakeholders to support the implementation of WEE advocacy plan. 

On the 29th of June 2017, the Narok County gender advocacy Multi Stakeholder Platform (MSP) was established to spearhead the execution of gender-equitable frameworks for increased income among targeted women’s enterprises in the county. Each participating stakeholder of the MSP was given clear roles and responsibilities to support the gender advocacy work, particularly on influencing the upcoming development of the County Integrated Development Plan. The members agreed to analyse the currently ending CIDP, detailing strengths and weaknesses in regards to gender equality. Currently, a team is developing a roadmap and work plan for the inclusion of the Narok County gender advocacy and WEE agenda in the development of the new CIDP for 2018-2022. 

The county stakeholders led by the Narok County Department of Finance and Economic Planning committed to support Nguzo Africa in the execution of gender equitable legal frameworks in Narok County for the 2017/18 financial year.

Already Nguzo Africa has undertaken review of the first Narok County CIDP (2013-2017). The review will guide in development and implementation of the new Narok County CIDP (2018-2022). 

In addition, to increase acceptance of gender equitable norms, Nguzo Africa is implementing a Social and Behaviour Change Communication strategy by holding household and community dialogues. Two sites constituting 10 households each have been identified, one in NairagieEnkare, Narok East Sub County and one in Ololulunga, NarokSouth Sub County. Initial pre-tests and introductory sessions have already been held. Nine household dialogue sessions on key gender norms are planned to be held by the end of this year.

Further, Nguzo Africa has mapped out key Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) that will support in the implementation of the WEE advocacy plan. This will include developing their capacity to enable them to support the WEE advocacy. Some other key planned activities include: convening meetings with women entrepreneurs and CSOs to discuss their participation and consolidate their input on WEE issues to be included into the new CIDP. We will also establish the Women Business Association that will work closely with the Narok County gender advocacy MSP to hold regular Governor's Round Table meetings to sensitise county officials and inform the county’s development plans.

A women's agribusiness association will be established to lobby the county government to develop women’s economic empowerment policies and provide funding to address identified challenges. The lobby will organise Governor's roundtable meetings to review county government actions in the implementation of Women Economic Empowerment Agenda in the County Integrated Development Plan for 2018-2022. The lobby will also push for the establishment of value addition zones for beef, tomatoes, potatoes and cereals processing to provide sustainable markets for farm produce.  

Conclusion

It is now clear that combining enterprise development and advocacy interventions provides a sustainable approach in growth of women's enterprises. Consequently, farmer organisations, market operators, finance and input/asset providers, processors, development partners, research institutions and governments should work seamlessly to for improved incomes among women at individual and group levels. 

Way  Forward 

  • Promote the Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) agenda. Based on the CIDP review as well as the needs assessment of the EOWE programme beneficiaries in Narok, advocate for their active participation and recognition of their requirements to be able to excel in their enterprises;
  • Develop capacity of county government policy makers, local CSOs and women champions to enable them to include the WEE agenda in the upcoming CIDP;
  • Close collaboration between county governments and key stakeholders to define clear roles and implementation plans in the new CIDP to ensure WEE and gender equality will be achieved;
  • Encourage inter-county learning and sharing and networking to benchmark on success stories and opportunities available for replication.
  • Continue developing capacity of women's enterprises through skills development, deployment of technology, knowledge transfer and learning exchanges for women farmers should be applauded. Building technical, production, advocacy, commercial and organisation governance skills for women's agri-enterprises is critical for success.  

 

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