Visa has announced a $2.4 million (Kshs 242 Million) grant to Hand in Hand Eastern Africa to support low-income business owners in Kenya. The program aims to help improve the livelihoods and resilience of 10,000 individuals in Kenya – 75% of which are women – by offering them business and financial skills training, mentorship and financial services.
The three-year project will bring tailored skills to two distinct groups of micro business owners looking to grow their businesses.
(TOP: Hand In Hand International CEO Albert Wambugu – left – and Visa GM for East Africa Corine Mbiaketcha – right – receive hand crafted wooden utensils from Jack Nyawanga, the co-founder and secretary general of the Victor).
Speaking during the announcement of the grant, Corine Mbiaketcha-Nana, the VP and GM for East Africa at Visa, said that women play a major role in the economic growth of any nation, hence Visa’s decision to support the Hand in Hand Eastern Africa initiative. “The women in our lives play a key part in not only in the growth of our homes, but also the growth of our country’s economy and it is with this in mind that Visa is partnering with Hand in Hand Eastern Africa to empower women business owners”.
Albert Wambugu, the CEO of Hand in Hand Eastern Africa said: “Hand in Hand works with women micro business owners because of the unique barriers they face, and because when those barriers are overcome, whole communities win. Together with Visa, we aim to help at least 10,000 individuals in greater Nairobi start or scale up their businesses through a combination of specialist training and mentorship.”
Members in the project’s first group, the Launchpad, will receive Hand in Hand Eastern Africa’s business and skills training, financial inclusion and links to bigger markets, developed and adapted for maximum impact over 15 years.
Members of the second group, the Accelerator cohort, will have a full-time business, at least one employee and successful loan repayment history. It is also expected that they will have a clear vision for how to grow their businesses, and an entrepreneurial mind-set to match. This is a new segment for Hand in Hand which Visa is collaborating on to pilot the project.
The program will also promote financial health by increasing access to group banking and access to formal financial services. Visa is also investing in Hand in Hand’s IT infrastructure to support digital program data and collection, which will be scaled across all 23 of Hand in Hand Eastern Africa’s field offices.
This initiative is part of Visa’s broader commitment to support women’s economic empowerment, which is expanding to include additional access to education, tools, services and networks that empower women everywhere, from the smallest micro businesses to established small businesses around the globe. In 2020, Visa will continue to lead initiatives that unlock the socio-economic barriers women face in business and contribute towards inclusive economic development globally.
Hand in Hand Eastern Africa (HiH EA) is a Kenyan-based NGO with mandate to operate within the Eastern Africa region. It is part of the Hand in Hand Global Network that comprises affiliated organizations that mutually pursue the shared goal of poverty alleviation while supporting poorer communities to create sustainable enterprises and jobs. The organization is currently operating in 21 Field offices within 26 Counties in Kenya. HiH EA has so far mobilized, trained and is training over 300,000 members (80% women, 40% youth) who have created over 296,000 enterprises (30% eco-enterprises) and over 400,000 jobs on the Kenyan programme.
The organization works with marginalized communities in the areas of economic and social empowerment using a participatory approach aimed at helping people fight poverty and vulnerability. The HiH EA’s enterprise and job creation approach is based on a philosophy of self-help, providing training, skills and support to enable people living in poverty, particularly women, to build and sustain independent, market-based, economic activities. This provides for a higher level of income for them and their families, which in turn contributes to greater food security, better education for children, increased access to healthcare, improved housing and overall improved livelihoods.