Unilever’s Sunlight, has announced a five-year programme to support women in business. Dubbed ‘Sunlight Women of More’, selected women entrepreneurs will benefit from various initiatives such as financial literacy training and advertising.
An estimated 100,000 women entrepreneurs are expected to directly benefit from the programme that is pegged on Sunlight’s uplifting attitude toward women in East Africa.
At the first stage of the programme in 2020, Sunlight had partnered with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) to train fifty women in entrepreneurship, innovation and financial literacy. For the second stage, Sunlight plans to strengthen the partnership and join forces with Absa Bank Kenya and UNITAR to scale up and training an additional five thousand women this year – a hundred-fold increase.
“Sunlight is committed to helping over 100,000 Kenyan women entrepreneurs to develop their businesses into sustainable and profitable ventures they can be proud of by 2026. We will do this by providing tools and partnership to allow them to become More. We have done this by partnering with UNITAR and Absa Bank,” says Henry Muchauraya, Homecare Director, East Africa, Unilever.
Statistics show that women-owned businesses are making a significant contribution to the Kenyan economy, accounting for 48% of all micro-small and medium-sized enterprises, which contribute to about 20 % of the GDP.
“Women are still faced with many real and perceptual huddles that have tipped the scales against them and made it more difficult to succeed with certain opportunities. As a bank whose purpose is to bring possibilities to life, we are happy to be part of this partnership as it will go a long way in addressing historic challenges that face women entrepreneurs and support them grow. The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to more entrepreneurs, and we believe that with the right financial literacy, these businesses can grow exponentially,” said Elizabeth Wasunna, Director Business Banking, Absa Bank Kenya.
According to the bank, there is also a need to encourage as many women entrepreneurs as possible to register their businesses, formalize their operations and maintain good records of their transactions.
“These are important factors that not only determine entrepreneurs’ ability to attract investment and credit, but also scale their businesses to the next level” adds Ms. Wasunna.
“We are excited to join the ‘Sunlight Women of More’ programme in order to support thousands of women who will now be given the opportunity to reach their full potential. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly delayed and derailed the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), affecting marginalized populations, such as women, more than others. Women need to become leaders and agents of change in their communities and societies – programmes such as ‘Sunlight Women of More’ greatly increase this likelihood.” – Mihoko Kumamoto, Director for Division for Prosperity, UNITAR.
The campaign is anchored on three pillars; media, shopper, and education to sustain its promise. This will see the media pillar donate media spaces to support the businesses by creating visibility through Digital, Radio and Out of Home ad spaces such as billboards. Shopper- offer spaces to the women for them to market their products through its instore activations and the education pillar to offer training on financial, literacy, marketing skills and digital marketing.
To be eligible for the training, one must own a business that has been in operation for at least one year, be keen to learn and are highly motivated to succeed to provide positive impact to the society.
The training will support the development of entrepreneurial knowledge and skills of participants looking to address local needs through innovative and creative business solutions through the following:
- Learning the entrepreneurial process of identifying opportunities and mobilizing resources to bring a new enterprise to life.
- Exploring the tools and techniques to create desirable, feasible, viable, and sustainable solutions that solve customer needs and problems.
- Designing a business model appropriate for their enterprise and customer segment(s).
- Developing revenue models to capture value in all its forms and formulate financial projections appropriate for social or commercial enterprises, and
- Applying the types of innovations that lead to competitive advantage and enterprise growth.
The training will also encourage peer learning, knowledge sharing, and the formation of a network of like-minded practitioners and entrepreneurs in Kenya and in the region.
To be eligible for the training, one must own a business that has been in operation for at least one year, be keen to learn and are highly motivated to succeed to provide a positive impact to society.
An open call to entry will be placed on the UNITAR platform from 21st June 2021- 20th July 2021.