Aiming to foster economic empowerment and inclusivity strategically, Family Bank in Kenya commits a substantial Sh50 billion under its new “Queen Banking” initiative–launched to support women-owned enterprises. This groundbreaking program—undertaken collaboratively with the African Guarantee Fund—not only seeks to harness the vast potential of women entrepreneurs; it also addresses their unique challenges: accessing finance and scaling up their businesses.
Women entrepreneurs continue to grapple with numerous constraints that obstruct their access to financial resources; these obstacles, in turn, impede the growth of their enterprises. In a bid to alter this narrative: Family Bank launched its “Queen Banking” initiative–an innovative proposal designed specifically for women-owned businesses. This program offers secured and unsecured loans up-to Sh7 million through what they call the ‘Biashara Boost’ offering – an opportunity not only towards bridging gender-based financial gaps but also towards fostering business development on a larger scale.
Businesses must meet certain criteria to qualify for this program: 51% or more of their shares should be controlled by women, or they should be entirely woman-owned. Additionally, the following enterprises are eligible as well: those where women constitute over 30% of the board; senior management with a composition of more than 25% female representation; and entities offering products or services that benefit women–all can leverage this remarkable proposition.
Rebecca Mbithi, Family Bank’s CEO, underscored the timeliness of this initiative: Women in Kenya are starting businesses at twice the rate of men — yet their economic potential remains vastly untapped. The Economics Kenya Labour Force Report 2022 confirms that women compose 40% of micro and formal SMEs in Kenya; thus recognizing an urgent need for further empowerment. Economic fortification not only bolsters these enterprises but also imparts significant ripple effects on families, communities — ultimately enriching the nation as a whole.
The McKinsey Global Institute’s 2015 report underscores the potential of economic female empowerment and closing the gender gap: a possible addition of $12 trillion to global GDP. Historically speaking, banks have cast skepticism on women-led businesses given their perceived risks–collateral quality; smaller business sizes; among other factors. This initiative, however, pushes back against these biases by escalating lending opportunities for women-led enterprises.
The “Queen Banking” initiative empowers women-led enterprises: they can secure unsecured loans up to Sh2.5 million for piped water projects; Sh10 million for education institutions, and Sh2million for agribusinesses. With such a diverse range of funding options – it equips women to invest in critical sectors not just beneficial their businesses but also the broader community.
Jules Ngankam, the African Guarantee Fund Group’s CEO, articulated his unwavering dedication to collaborating with Family Bank; together, they aim to cultivate financial products and services that have the potential power to transform Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Notably — SMEs form an economic backbone: their notable role as primary job creators is indisputable.