The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, DHL Express, and Sinapis have announced a new partnership to train over 3,500 most promising women entrepreneurs in Kenya.
This initiative consists of two components: the Foundation’s award-winning business skills app HerVenture and its intensive, online 7-week investment readiness training program Road to Growth, brought to Kenya for the first time. The partnership builds on the successes of the Foundation and DHL’s piloting of HerVenture in Kenya last year, which was met with a target-breaking uptake and wide praise as over 1,200 women entrepreneurs used it to achieve growth and protect their businesses against the impacts of the pandemic.
This enhanced support comes at a crucial time: the Foundation recently released its 2020 annual audit of research on women entrepreneurs in low and middle-income countries, drawing on responses from women across 32 countries including Kenya. The research report illustrates the stark impacts of COVID-19 on women entrepreneurs and other major barriers they face—such as gender stereotypes, legal challenges, and lack of access to finance. Nearly four in ten (38.5%) women report their business will or may have to close as a result of the pandemic, potentially spelling disaster for children, families, and staff. The report makes clear that targeted, urgent action and support is needed.
But where there is disruption, there is also opportunity. Investing in women entrepreneurs plays a crucial role in supporting Kenya’s 2030 vision of becoming a middle-income nation by 2030. 49% of micro and small businesses are women-owned—more than in any other East African country—yet women own only 9% of medium-sized enterprises, suggesting they find it difficult to scale. Recognizing both the potential threat and the potential opportunity, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, DHL, and Sinapis came together to provide through HerVenture and Road to Growth the support needed for women in Kenya to not only protect their micro, small and medium-sized enterprises but to transform them into thriving and sustainable businesses.
Following last year’s pilot, HerVenture is currently available to Kenyan women entrepreneurs on iOS through the App Store and Android via the Google Play Store, where it has a 5-star rating. So far, the app has been downloaded by and provided training to over 1,250 women in Kenya, spelling huge benefits to families, local communities and the economy. Now, through Sinapis, HerVenture will be actively promoted to more women across the country with a target of at least 3,500 new users.
Later this year, Road to Growth will support 200 women entrepreneurs—most of whom will be progressing from using HerVenture, as a “next step” in their entrepreneurial journey—to work more intensively to build business skills, financial literacy, networks, and confidence via online learning and coaching. Road to Growth has already benefited women in Nigeria, Mexico, Indonesia, and Vietnam. The Foundation is working to scale further across sub-Saharan Africa.
With HerVenture currently available in Nigeria, Indonesia and Vietnam as well as Kenya, reaching tens of thousands of users, the Foundation and DHL are also delighted to be launching the app in South Africa for the first time later this year. With a target of at least 1,600 South African woman entrepreneurs using it to grow their businesses, the app spells great things for economies across Africa.
“The success of the HerVenture app in Kenya over the past year highlights the importance of the inclusion of female entrepreneurs in the digital economy. We are looking forward to continuing this work through Road to Growth with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. Our organizational purpose of ‘connecting people and improving lives’ serves as our guiding force to tackle issues that impact the communities in which we operate and digitalization is an important lever to expand the reach, impact and effectiveness of these programs. By empowering women and improving digital skills, we will make great progress towards building smarter, digital economies in the future.” said Hennie Heymans, CEO, DHL Express Sub Saharan Africa.
“Sinapis is thrilled to work with DHL and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women to empower women entrepreneurs across Kenya with practical, accessible content to help them grow existing businesses and launch new ventures. Small and growing businesses represent 80% of Kenya’s workforce and the backbone of its economy. Over our 10 years of working in this market, we have witnessed how training business essentials closes a critical gap in moving these businesses out of survival mode to growth. We are eager to be part of an important solution for building the knowledge and confidence of women entrepreneurs, giving them the tools and networks, they need to succeed as we move out of a tough year.” Sylvie Somerville, Director of Training & Global Partnerships, Sinapis Group said.