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Banks must focus on the impact of women’s businesses

In my conversations with women running businesses in Kenya it is apparent that financial institutions must recalibrate their thinking and correct their misperceptions about female consumers.

These misperceptions have birthed an ingrained feeling that financial partners and policymakers have a biased view at investing in women as an opportunity to create real socio-economic impact, not charity.

Furthermore, Africa leads the world where more women than men choose to become entrepreneurs – and Kenyan women own 33 percent of all small and medium enterprises(SMEs) or slightly above 517,000 businesses, according to an International Finance Corporation (IFC) report.

The women counsel that the female economy, comparable to the male economy, is laden with attitudinal differences that if taken to account, and acted on, can generate positive returns with minimal investment.

The common misperception fronted against developing a banking programme for women is that their attitude to finance differs little from men. That’s not true. Women are a more cautious lot when it comes to risk and reward.

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