The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, DHL Express and Sinapis are launching an exciting partnership to bring crucial entrepreneurial skills and support to over 3,500 of Kenya’s most promising women entrepreneurs.
This Road to Growth initiative consists of two components: the Foundation’s award-winning business skills app HerVenture and its intensive, online 7-week investment readiness training programme 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. Recognising 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. Sinapis will be actively promoting the HerVenture app to more women across the country with a target of at least 3,500 new users.
Later this year, Sinapis will support 200 women entrepreneurs by facilitating the Road to Growth training —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.
“Sub-Saharan African economies lose nearly $100 billion a year because of the gender gap in the labour market and the current COvID-19 crisis is exacerbating many existing inequalities the women entrepreneurs we work with already face. However, by working with businesses like DHL to support women entrepreneurs in response to this pandemic, we can take this as an opportunity to rebuild economies in a way that not only provides essential financial stability but takes us closer to the goal of equal economic participation between women and men. Following our pilot’s impact in Kenya last year, we can’t wait to scale up our support to reach many more women entrepreneurs.”
– Emily Scott, Director of Programmes, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women
“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 organisational 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.”
– 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
“Thank God for this digital tools like the HerVenture app! It has enable me to run my business and keep learning even when I’m at home and taking care of my baby. I’m able to make better choices for my family. Through it, I learned how to launch a business, to use e-commerce platforms, to prepare myself, use business language, articulate challenges and forge ahead in a business environment. It’s given me the tools to share with other women how to manage different sides of business. Before, we were running blind, so the app is a light in the dark. It helps us to know what to do, and if you’re stuck you can access the tool to address it.”
– Wangari Mwaura, Founder, New Star Organic, and HerVenture Kenya app user