Imarisha Biashara is a phrase in Swahili that translates to “grow your business.” This call to action not only serves as an inspiring slogan, but also as the title for the “Women, Business and Government” campaign recently launched by our partner organization in Kenya, KAWBO (Kenya Association of Women Business Owners). We are excited to highlight the remarkable progress that KAWBO is making in facilitating women’s economic empowerment.
Kenya’s President recently launched a new procurement regulation granting 30% of all government contracts to youth, women, and persons with disabilities without competition from established firms. Considering the fact that the government is the largest procurer of goods and services, the reform presents an immense opportunity for Kenyan businesswomen to expand their enterprises and realize their full potential.
The aim of KAWBO’s campaign is to increase awareness about this opportunity for growth, while equipping women in business with the necessary information and resources to meet the application standards and requirements. Some of the government’s prerequisites include registration with the appropriate government authority and at least a 70% membership and leadership comprised entirely of women. To facilitate increased visibility of the public procurement reform and their campaign for women, KAWBO hosted a summit on Thursday, October 25th that yielded a high turnout and garnered interest from attendees in partnering with the organization and participating in future training sessions.
Hopes are high and the prospects remain promising, but it must be acknowledged that there are still hurdles to clear in order to ensure that women entrepreneurs are able to seize the opportunities being presented. KAWBO and its stakeholders are well aware that there are difficulties that women will face in securing public procurement contracts, including the low rate of registration with government authorities, likely caused by inadequate knowledge to begin the process. Nevertheless, KAWBO has shown itself up for the challenge, and Vital Voices stands in support of our partner as they continue to promote this groundbreaking change in Kenya.