(From left) Albert Wambugu, CEO – Hand in Hand Eastern Africa; Winfred Kanyoi, Business Development Executive – Visa; Dorothea Arndt, CEO – Hand in Hand International; and Eva Ngigi-Sarwari, Country Manager, Kenya – Visa at the Visa Innovation Studio in Nairobi. PHOTO/ MARY KIBE

Damiana Musyoko, one of the participants of the Visa and Hand in Hand KMES Program at her shop. PHOTO/ MARY KIBE

Dorothea Arndt (right), CEO Hand in Hand International, presents the report on the Visa and Hand in Hand KMES program to Eva Ngigi-Sarwari, Country Manager, Kenya, Visa. PHOTO / MARY KIBE

Hand In Hand Entrepreneur Training Programme Boosts Women’s Financial Resilience In Nairobi’s Informal Settlements

By Mary Kibe

Hand in Hand’s Kenya Micro-Enterprise

Success (KMES) programme funded by

Visa has resulted in participating

entrepreneurs increasing their incomes

by an average USD $156 (Approximately

KES 20,000) per month. The project,

which was launched in 2020, targeted

existing small business owners as well

as first-time entrepreneurs living

below the poverty line.

The three-year programme provided 8,200

first-time entrepreneurs, 80% of whom

were women, with the core business

training needed to start their own

micro enterprises. It also offered

advanced training to 1,600

participants, including 1,280 women,

who already owned and operated small


Despite kicking off just before the

onset of the Coronavirus pandemic,

which brought with it countrywide

lockdowns, reduced movement and fewer

physical interactions, the programme

achieved significant success.

“At a time when businesses across the

country were closing in record numbers

our members were able to reduce their

costs, expand into new markets and take

their businesses online,” said Albert

Wambugu Hand in Hand Eastern Africa

CEO. “Additionally, this project gave

our members a path to digital financial

inclusion, with a majority of

entrepreneurs being able to access

useful and affordable financial

products and services that meet their

needs, thus reducing poverty,

unleashing their potential and boosting


More than 80% of the members reported

improved financial management skills

with both first-time and existing

entrepreneurs indicating that they were

more financially resilient. This

played a crucial role in helping

participants weather the economic

effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and

90% of them reported that they were

able to withstand the financial shocks

without having to sell an asset or

getting into debt.

“We are proud of the outcomes delivered

through Visa’s partnership with Hand

in Hand. Not only did we surpass the

number of targeted beneficiaries, but

we have seen the immediate impact on

their businesses. We will continue to

seek out partnerships and opportunities

that reach the traditionally

underserved, providing them with access

to resources that can help improve

their economic livelihoods, businesses

and communities”, said Eva Ngigi-

Sarwari, Country Manager, Visa Kenya.

Moving their businesses online also

played a key part in the entrepreneurs’

success as they began to market their

products on social and digital

platforms during the pandemic. The

number of businesses accepting mobile

payments rose from 38% to 81% while the

programme created 5,178 jobs against

an initial target of 2,766. First-time

entrepreneurs also increased their

profitability by an average of 15%,

while existing small businesses owners

boosted their profits by an average of


“Thanks to this project with Visa,

these women have been able to confound

expectations and succeed as

entrepreneurs, even during a global

pandemic. As a result of the training,

they have been able to expand their

businesses and lift their families out

of poverty for good. What’s more, many

of them are now employers, creating

much-needed jobs in their communities”,

said Dorothea Arndt, Hand in Hand

International CEO.

All programme members also received

business and financial training, with

existing small business owners being

given additional mentoring and support

to help them scale up their businesses.

This included training in social media

and digital marketing to help them

link up with larger markets and access

to credit.

Look at poverty differently and you’ll

see grassroots entrepreneurs, full of

energy and ideas. Hand in Hand helps

turn their skills and potential into

jobs. They find a way out of poverty.

Through a unique mixture of group

savings, business and skills training,

financial inclusion and links to bigger

markets, Hand in Hand has helped

create and grow more than 4 million

jobs since 2003. Nine times out of ten,

those jobs have been women’s. Research

shows that for every dollar they earn,

women in the developing world spend US

$0.90 on their families and

communities, versus just $0.40 for men.

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