NAIROBI, March 27 (Xinhua) -- Kenya requires a radical policy shift to spur growth of female-led enterprises that have stagnated against a backdrop of limited access to credit, markets and skills, an investor lobby said on Wednesday.
Rachel Muthoga, deputy CEO of Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), said that affirmative action coupled with mentorship and innovative financing is key to spurring growth of female owned start-ups.
"Scaling up women enterprises in Kenya through deliberate actions to increase their market linkages, develop their skills and knowledge and enhance their innovation will help abet unemployment, reduce inequality and hasten attainment of sustainable development goals(SDGs)," said Muthoga.
She made the remarks during a forum on promoting women-led enterprises as a means to achieve Kenya's socio-economic transformation agenda.
Policy makers, business leaders and innovators, attended the forum that explored innovative ways to revitalize growth of female owned start-ups as well as small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
Government statistics indicate that women owned 32 percent of small and medium sized businesses that have potential to transform the country's economy subject to a friendly operating environment.
Muthoga said that though Kenya has made progress in closing gender gap in the workplace, the attention should shift to entrepreneurship where women's representation is inadequate.
"We need to empower female entrepreneurs to enable them to become part of local and international supply chains. Our policy makers have a duty to ensure the regulatory environment is conducive and supportive to businesses owned by women," said Muthoga.
The World Bank's Women Business and Law report of 2018 ranks Kenya at position 71 out of 189 in terms of eliminating bottlenecks that prevent women from making a positive contribution to the economy.
Eva Muraya, chair of KEPSA gender board said that regulatory incentives are key to ensuring that female owned start-ups have access to affordable credit and markets.
"The financial sector should reduce the cost of borrowing to small and medium sized enterprises owned by women to boost their growth," said Muraya.