Absa Bank’s SHE Stars Program has graduated its first cohort of 257 women entrepreneurs who went through blended finance and business development services capacity building aimed at increasing the growth and competitiveness of women-owned MSMEs.
Speaking during the graduation ceremony in Nairobi, Absa Bank’s Business Banking Director Elizabeth Wasunna reiterated the bank’s commitment to empowering women entrepreneurs with the necessary financial and non-financial resources enabling them to sustainably grow their businesses and compete effectively in the business world.
“Today, women-led businesses have yielded notable financial benefits to the national economy and helped grow household incomes. However, they are still faced with many real and perceptual hurdles that have tipped the scales against them and hindered them from succeeding. It is through the SHE Star program that we are taking steps to address these historical challenges that women entrepreneurs face. As Absa, we congratulate our graduates from the first and second cohorts and urge them to serve as a beacon of hope to other entrepreneurs looking to break the ceiling,” said Ms Wasunna.
The Absa SHE Star programme, launched last year, is an ongoing collaboration between Absa with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) Employment and Skills for Development in Africa (E4D) Programme that is supported by Yunus Environment Hub (YEH). Its aim is to fasttrack the economic recovery of 1,500 women-owned Micro, Small and Medium Businesses adversely affected by the Covid-19 economic situation.
“We are currently running a third and fourth cohort to support more women in business and empower them to successfully run their enterprises and bring fruitful impact to communities across the country. As Absa, we congratulate our graduates from the first and second cohorts and urge them to serve as a beacon of hope to other entrepreneurs looking to break the ceiling,” added Ms Wasunna.
The SHE Star graduates were enrolled in a 12-week Technical Business Management Programme facilitated by Yunus Environment Hub under the Absa SHE Business Academy. Graduates were taken through courses on cash flow analysis, risk management, income diversification, branding, fundraising, leadership, and people management.
On her part, Ms. Linet Kinyua, Director at Pensoft Systems and a beneficiary of the SHE Star programme said: “What I like most about the SHE Academy is that there is a relevant business module schedule, so one knows what exactly is to be covered and the activities for the entire 20 weeks the program will last. The academy comprises of female entrepreneurs from different backgrounds, thus an opportunity to learn about other sectors that are different from yours. The classes are small thus more chances to participate in the class discussion, faster response to questions, better learning and performance, and increased networking opportunities. The trainers are always ready to engage you even after the sessions. We have wonderful mentors who guide us through the journey, either via emails, calls, zoom, and WhatsApp groups. We have platforms where we access all the module slides, module recordings, and related templates as well as assignments.”
The SHE Stars program will continue to support women entrepreneurs in micro, small and medium enterprises in the next five months. “We are optimistic that this program will have long-term effects on the SHE Stars where they will be able to create more job opportunities and reduce poverty levels in their communities,” added Christina Jager, the MD, Yunus Environment Hub.
The initiative is part of Absa’s women’s agenda and commitment to empower over 1 million women entrepreneurs across the country with the necessary financial and non-financial support to enable them scale up and take their businesses to the next level over the next five years.