Growth and Comfort do not Coexist
― Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO
For over a century, women have challenged the status quo in a predominantly patriarchal world and with it a chance at equity and inclusivity. This is what International Women’s Day celebrates. In the beginning, the struggle was about bringing us into the fold and lately, this has morphed into other struggles such as equal pay to further reduce the gender gap.
Consequently, success for us comes with twice the effort and huge sacrifices. In retrospect, this effort paves way for future generations to get benefits in the society just as we benefit from women who paved the way in the last century. With each generation, it gets better.
The gaps in developing nations is far greater than in developed nations. Access to basic rights such as sanitary towels are still elusive. That notwithstanding, strides have been made in other areas including establishment of the Women Enterprise Fund.
As one of the few women-led financial institutions, Credit Bank is cognizant of the challenges women face in the society. By sharing what we have undertaken to empower women, we hope to spur more women enterprises and push existing ones out of their comfort zone. Supporting SMEs is our forte and our financing is modelled to suit small and growing enterprises.
Mrs. Betty Korir, our CEO, places emphasis on giving women opportunities and empowering them through providing financial literacy and advisory services. Access to finances has been the bane of SMEs’ existence especially women-led enterprises. An SME can win a project but cash constraints hamper fulfilment and even in cases where fulfilment is done, cash flows hamper growth as one is unable to undertake another project. Granted, there should be laws enforcing faster payments from institutions but financial institutions can step in here. Ms. Clara Kathurima, CEO of Gateway Clean Energy, demonstrates these cashflow constraints and how we helped her navigate to her success.
Other challenges women face in running businesses can be changes in laws. Businesses tend to operate and scale well in stable environments. In the recent past, laws that affect small and growing enterprises’ operations have come into effect. Consider the now repealed interest capping laws that saw financing to SMEs at an all time low. The story shared in the documentary above further demonstrates how a single law introduced can wipe out an entire industry. At Credit Bank, we understand the changing landscape in the business environment. Our support to Wajen Wholesalers, who suffered a setback from the laws banning single use plastics, helped her pivot her business and is now back on her feet.
“Losing hope should never be a vocabulary in your life.” – Jeniffer Waiyaki, Wajen Wholesalers.
Our Trade Finance solutions have provided a platform for SMEs to do businesses on a global scale. The traditional approach of a one size fits all type of loan does not work for SMEs. Credit Bank listens and further provides training for women-led businesses to build sustainable enterprises. Ms. Carol Muriuki, CEO of Kajeje Ltd, is a testament of how to acquire an international licensing deal for local distribution of a product. Her first shipment financed by us gave her the much-needed foundations for success and growth. This type of non-traditional support is what businesses require to grow and we at Credit Bank provide it. This includes knowledge-based training, access to markets and networks.
“If we can empower the women, then we are really on our way to push the economy forward.” – Mrs. Betty Korir, CEO, Credit Bank.