60% of women in Kenya forced to cut living expenses to cope with difficult financial times




Old Mutual has launched its latest Financial Services Monitor, which offers invaluable insights into the financial behaviours and attitudes of Kenyans, with a particular focus on women.

This second edition of the Old Mutual Financial Services Monitor (OMFSM) provides a comprehensive analysis of the Kenyan economy, highlighting key trends and challenges faced by individuals, especially women. “The report comes in the wake of International women’s day, which is focusing on the economic empowerment of women to accelerate gender equality,” cited Anne Nyamu, Patron of Old Mutual Women’s Network.

According to the report, only 16% of women in Kenya express confidence in the country’s economy, with a staggering 54% reporting significant financial stress, a figure notably higher than their male counterparts, standing at 41%. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on earnings is also evident, with 9 out of 10 Kenyan consumers (91% women; 90% men) experiencing stagnant or decreased income levels.

The Monitor also sheds light on expenditure patterns, revealing that 60% of household income is allocated to living expenses, 12% to debt, and one-fifth to savings. Notably, access to healthcare remains a challenge, with over half of Kenyan women lacking medical insurance and two-thirds not covered by their employer. To cope with financial pressures, 41% of Kenyan women have tapped into their savings, while 30% have resorted to borrowing from savings clubs (chamas).

In terms of retirement savings, while 8 in 10 women acknowledge its importance, only 2 in 10 are actively saving for retirement, highlighting a significant gap that needs to be addressed.

Despite these challenges, there remains a beacon of optimism, as almost three-quarters of Kenyan women believe their financial situation will improve in the next six months. This optimism is accompanied by adaptive strategies, with 60% of women adjusting their expenses, including cutting down on house-helps and switching to cheaper brands. Meanwhile, 36% of women are actively working to secure their investments.

The entrepreneurial spirit among Kenyan women also continues to thrive, with over half owning businesses. However, most of these enterprises are small-scale, with 72% being proprietor-run and 28% employing five or fewer individuals.

Commenting on the report, Old Mutual East Africa Group CEO, Arthur Oginga, said: “The insights provided by this edition of the Old Mutual Financial Services Monitor emphasize the urgent need for tailored financial solutions and support mechanisms, particularly for women in Kenya. The Old Mutual Group is keen on stepping in to offer the financial services that will help this important demographic cope effectively.”

Starting January 2024, Old Mutual’s Financial Services Monitor serves as a comprehensive resource for policymakers, industry stakeholders, and individuals alike, offering invaluable insights into the dynamics shaping the Kenyan financial ecosystem.

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