Absa Bank Kenya has announced hosting the ITC SheTrades Kenya Hub for another two years to increase trade, productivity and competitiveness for women entrepreneurs and owned companies.

This is after Absa Bank Kenya signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Trade Centre (ITC) to host the event on Friday.

The SheTrades Hub is a dedicated project of ITC’s global initiative of a network of 13 others spanning Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America.

The extended partnership aims to close the 6% gap between men and women’s access to formal financial institutions, as found in a Central Bank of Kenya survey.

Women entrepreneurs in the country own nearly half of all small businesses, yet barriers to accessing finance persist.

Since the launch of ITC’s partnership with Absa Bank Kenya in 2016, more than 8,500 women have received financial literacy training, and more than 10,400 women have obtained business financing support valued at over $23 million.

The partnership was instrumental in the launch of Absa’s See Her Empowered (SHE) Business Initiative in 2021, which aims to better support women entrepreneurs in accessing finance, training, and mentorship for business development and market information.

During the extended two-year partnership and through the SheTrades Kenya Hub, Absa Bank will scale up its financial offerings to women entrepreneurs.

“The SheTrades programme aligns well with our overall commitment to positively impact and grow women-owned businesses in the country by creating opportunities for them to participate in the global economy by building their capacities and delivering trainings on financial literacy and entrepreneurship.” Abdi Mohamed, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director of Absa Bank Kenya, said.

As part of this initiative, the Bank is more committed to empowering over one million women entrepreneurs nationwide by 2025 with financial and non-financial support to scale up and take their businesses to the next level.

On her part, ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton said that Absa Bank Kenya is not only ITC’s first SheTrades Hub but also the first financial institution to host one of their Hubs.

“With access to finance being one of the most pressing obstacles faced by women entrepreneurs in Kenya and globally, we hope that more financial institutions will follow Absa Bank Kenya’s footsteps in unlocking business financing for women,” she added.

In June, at the World Economic Development Forum 2023 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, ITC will launch its 14th ITC SheTrades Hub, which the Mongolian Chamber of Commerce and Industry will host.