Strong results from our programmes in Kenya

Following an external evaluation of our programmes in Kenya, we're pleased to share their impacts.

In 2022, thanks to funding from DHL Express, we ran four of our flagship programmes in Kenya—delivered with our partner Sinapis. Following an external evaluation, we’re pleased to share the project’s incredible impacts. 

While the Kenyan economy is growing, structural and social barriers hold women back from fully participating in and benefitting from this growth. Kenyan women make up just 31.4% of the country’s formal business ownership and often lack access to business development services that could support them to thrive. Many women entrepreneurs also have care duties, which can limit their capacity for starting and growing a business. That’s where our programmes come in. 

Frida Owinga, Owner of Passion Profit in Nairobi Kenya smiles at her desk.
Frida Owinga, Founder of Passion Profit and Road to Leadership alumna, Kenya

In February 2022 we re-commenced active delivery of our HerVenture business skills app, which at that time had been available in the country for almost two years. The app was actively promoted to users until the end of the year. Our Road to Growth training programme was delivered in several cohorts between March and October – its second year in Kenya – and our Road to Leadership training programme was also delivered for the second time in Kenya in September and October. Both were delivered to women entrepreneurs through a blend of online and face-to-face delivery.  

These programmes are designed specifically for women, taking their unique needs and challenges into account. Participants boosted their business and leadership skills, increased their confidence and strengthened their businesses. This creates a massive ripple effect of impact on their families and communities.  

To deliver these, we partnered with Sinapis, a Nairobi-based business training organisation for entrepreneurs.  

Betty Matharu, Operations Director at Swim Africa, poses in front of her office.
Betty Matharu, Operations Director at Swim Africa and Road to Leadership alumna, Kenya

Our award-winning HerVenture app supported 6,654 women entrepreneurs as users. The app provides women entrepreneurs with essential business knowledge and skills through bite-sized lessons that women can take while on the go. This is important as many women entrepreneurs in Kenya have to juggle business with unpaid care and domestic work. The app can also be used offline, a key feature as only 38% of Kenya has internet coverage.  

Across multiple cohorts, each taking part over the course of seven weeks, our Road to Growth programme equipped 45 participants with business skills, financial literacy, networks and confidence so they can achieve business growth.   

Following the success of 2021’s Road to Leadership pilot, we brought the programme back for another cohort of women entrepreneurs in Kenya. Our goal with the programme was to support 40 Kenyan women with leadership, communication and advocacy skills. We were blown away to have 126 women entrepreneurs participate, exceeding the participation target threefold. This fantastic growth is partly due to the programme’s relatively short duration, which made it appealing to women entrepreneurs who want to grow their skills but don’t have much time to invest in training.  

I developed my communication skills on the programme, which are vital for successful leadership. I am now clearer about who I am as a leader, and how I want to lead.

Frida Owinga, Founder of Passion Profit and Road to Leadership alumna, Kenya

May and November brought new intakes of mentees and mentors to our gold-accredited Mentoring Women in Business programme. By the end of 2022, 15 Kenyan mentees and 14 mentors from DHL’s global workforce had joined. Matched up in pairs with people from around the world, they set off on their mentoring journey, working towards their personal and professional development goals. Mentees and mentors alike found the programme valuable and said they would recommend it to others.  

We’re proud to share some of the fantastic results of these programmes: 

93% of Road to Growth participants increased their networks

94% of HerVenture users reported a change in their business knowledge

100% of Road to Leadership participants learned key leadership skills

91% of Road to Growth participants achieved at least 1 key business criteria: increased revenue, greater savings, or increased employment

94% of HerVenture users reported implementing improved business practices

42% of all programme participants reported that their businesses had hired more employees

Esther Gathage, Owner of Herstees Bespoke Cakes, alumna mentee, Kenya
Esther Gathage, Founder of Herstees Bespoke Cakes and alumna mentee, Kenya

The other aspect that my business has grown from is that I was able to learn about marketing and about customer service and especially about retaining the customers that I have already.

Esther Gathage, Founder of Herstees Bespoke Cakes and alumna mentee, Kenya

Key findings from the evaluation: 

Access to finance 

Evaluation respondents described their experience with HerVenture as a pivotal reference point in their entrepreneurial journey. They emphasized that the app played a crucial role in helping them unlearn outdated practices and acquire new knowledge and skills. The learnings from HerVenture contributed to enhanced financial management practices, especially in relation to keeping separate personal and business accounts. Additionally, there was a noticeable shift among HerVenture users from individual borrowing to using a savings and credit cooperative for financial needs.  

Building confidence 

Self-belief transformation has been a significant aspect of the journey for women entrepreneurs, particularly in terms of how they perceive themselves before and after their involvement in the Foundation’s programmes.  

Notably, among HerVenture users, there has been a remarkable shift, with 93% now expressing a belief in themselves, a substantial increase from 60% before. 

Additionally, the programmes empowered participants to confidently navigate their business challenges and seek support from others where needed. Women who participated in Mentoring reflected on and highlighted the role that their mentors played in boosting their confidence too.  

Flexibility is essential 

The Foundation designs its programmes to respond to specific challenges that women entrepreneurs face. One of these is juggling a number of priorities simultaneously. The flexibility to participate in programmes online and do the course study around their busy schedules was highlighted as a real benefit for the programmes as it enabled women to balance it with their other responsibilities. A Road to Growth participant also highlighted that the flexible learning format enabled her daughter to benefit from the training course by listening in – highlighting the value that the programmes can bring to participants’ wider family.  

Betty Matharu, Operations Director at Swim Africa, coaches a young swimmer.
Betty Matharu, Operations Director at Swim Africa and Road to Leadership alumna, Kenya

What’s next? 

2023 saw us continue to deliver HerVenture, Road to Growth, Road to Leadership and Mentoring Women in Business in Kenya as part of our project with DHL Express. This year saw us bring the total number of women we’ve supported in the country since our project began in 2020 to over 14,000. 

In 2024, we hope to continue running HerVenture, Road to Growth, Road to Leadership and Mentoring Women in Business in Kenya. We aim to reach a further 3,000 women entrepreneurs in the country over the year through our project with DHL Express whilst exploring new partnerships with the public and private sectors to help us scale even further and increase impact. 

Written by Franziska Wilk, Senior Programme Manager- Entrepreneurship, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.

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