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Investing in Women in the Blue Economy in Kenya Launched, 19 SMEs Receive Sh50M

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The African Enterprise Challenges Fund (AECF) recently shaded light on the challenges and opportunities surrounding women-owned businesses in the Blue Economy, a sector encompassing marine and coastal resources.

Recognizing the immense potential of women-owned businesses, AECF launched the Investing in Women in the Blue Economy in Kenya (IIW-BEK) program.

Funded by Global Affairs Canada, this initiative aims to support women-led micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the Blue Economy.

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The IIW-BEK program offers significant financial support for women entrepreneurs. Grants range from $50,000 to $400,000 for commercial private sector enterprises, with smaller grants of $15,000 to $50,000 available for medium, small, and micro enterprises, respectively.

“Inclusion demands intentionality. We are proud to be adding 19 women-owned small enterprises to our existing portfolio at the Kenyan Coast. We deliberately journey with them through our Investing In Women in the Blue Economy (IIW-BEK) programme funded by Global Affairs Canada | Affaires mondiales Canada,” AECF noted. “We are hopeful that these women entrepreneurs inspire a wave of change and build on the case that women-owned businesses are investable, they just need to access capital and technical advisory support.”

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The organization noted that an overwhelming 1,600 applications flooded the IIW-BEK competition, highlighting the high interest from women entrepreneurs.

However, the competition also revealed key challenges faced by these businesses:

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Pitching and Promotion: Many women entrepreneurs struggle to effectively market and present their business models through digital applications.

Confidence and Self-Doubt: Women entrepreneurs often underestimate their capabilities and hesitate to apply for funding opportunities due to perceived stringent requirements and a demanding application process.

Informality and Awareness: A significant number of women operate informally, lacking awareness of the benefits of formalization and compliance with regulations. This informality hinders access to support and resources.

Investment Knowledge: Many applicants had limited experience with investment grants and lacked familiarity with financial terminology.

AECF recognized these challenges and adapted its approach.

They incorporated in-person events, technical assistance workshops, and mentorship programs to help applicants refine their business models, improve presentation skills, and build leadership confidence.

AECF’s experience with the IIW-BEK program provides valuable insights into supporting women-owned businesses in the Blue Economy.

Recently, the organization announced Sh50 Million grants to 19 small women-led businesses in the blue economy sector in the coastal region.

One of the beneficiaries, Faith Mwende who is the co-founder of Sea Ventures noted: “We are part of the 19 who will receive support through funds to upscale our business. We would like to express our gratitude to AECF for the support and opportunity. Thank you for believing in us and our vision.”

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Diana Mutheu
Diana Mutheu
Diana Mutheu is a Tech enthusiast, happy to delve deeper into the African tech space covering Social Media, AI, Startups, Telcos, Cryptocurrency, Big Data, Women in Tech and all matters Tech. Write to me @[email protected]

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