Concern raised over low uptake of Women Enterprise Fund

Women Enterprise Fund CEO Charles Mwirigi issuing a Sh4.7 million dummy cheque to Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong on behalf of 47 women groups outside the Governor’s office premises

The Chief Executive Officer, Women Enterprise Fund Charles Mwirigi has expressed concern over the low uptake of the empowerment funds among women in Busia County.

Speaking during a courtesy call at the Busia County Commissioner’s boardroom, Mwirigi noted that the uptake was only Sh268,000,000 since 2007.

“This figure in the seven constituencies against the total funding of Sh18.7 billion is very little,” he said the situation has contributed to the county being grouped among the marginalized.

He stated that there is need to dig deeper into the reasons why the locals are not accessing the funds.

Busia County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri said there was a need for continuous education among the local residents to appreciate what the government is doing through empowerment funds like WEF and other affirmative funds.

Kanyiri added that there is a need to change the attitude of the local residents to be more aggressive while doing business.

“There are so many businesses that we can expose our women to and where there is a group in search of lending they can get help from WEF,” he said, adding that the funds are very friendly, attracting only 5 per cent administrative fee as compared to Bank interest of 13 per cent.

He advised the WEF team to consider rescheduling repayment schedules for their borrowers owing to the negative effects of the Covid- 19 pandemic.

“The option is not to forgive because people have suffered from Covid-19 but to reschedule repayment patterns so that people can repay,” he said, adding that funds and lenders do not exist for compassion.

At the same time, the county commissioner said that LPO financing is also good for the growing or maturing businesses.

“Any time that someone has an LPO, it means there is commitment that they will be paid and there is that guarantee that the money will be paid,” said Kanyiri, adding that the team can start in a small way in supporting such individuals.

Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong thanked the government for supporting women through the funds, adding that his administration will exploit every available opportunity to empower the youth and women economically by enabling them to access funds including WEF, Youth Enterprise, Uwezo funds among others.

Busia County Director of WEF Hellen Mukanda pointed out that uptake of the funds within the County currently stands at 2 per cent but there is need to increase it to around 40 per cent.

Mukanda appreciated the support by the National government, adding that there is need to improve the attitude of the local residents in appreciating, attracting credit and using it prudently.

She however noted that the few groups that have borrowed the funds have a good repayment rate of up to 90 per cent.

“Compared to the National level, our people are doing well in terms of repayment,” she said adding that the fund also provides LPO financing through SACCO lending which the locals should take advantage of.

The official expressed confidence that the funds will reduce the poverty index of the county, which stands at 7 per cent currently to a more accommodative figure alongside reducing economic dependency.

At least 47 women groups received a Sh4.7 million funding from the Empowerment kitty with a dummy cheque issued to them through the Governor.

Cumulatively, the fund has disbursed Sh 268,125,000 to 1,780 groups to date across the County with a total membership of 22,217 with a repayment rate of 94 percent.