Micro-finance and financial empowerment of women in Kenya
Mjomba, Elizabeth Mkazoya
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Bisnath and Elson (1999) state that micro-finance typically focuses on women‟s individual aspects, such as engagement in economic activities, productivity and individual choice, at the expense of empowerment through changes in power structures and gender relations. This emphasis on the individual aspects in turn makes empowerment merely an instrument in achieving economic development. The study objectives were to determine the extent to which KWFT has empowered women financially and to determine its influence on reducing the gap between the lower and the middle class income individuals in Kenya. The study took a descriptive research design with an aim of establishing how establishing how micro-finance has been benefiting the women. The population of the study was the customers of KWFT from the 12 branches in Nairobi. The study used simple stratified sampling technique in coming up with the study‟s sample of 60 respondents; 5 per branch. The study relied on primary data which were collected using semi-structured questionnaires and then the completed questionnaires were coded and entries were made into the Statistical Package for Social Sciences. The study made use of descriptive analysis techniques to analyze the data. The study found that micro-finance‟s such as KWFT has easier procedure of obtaining loans from MFIs than conventional banking‟ thus has the most significant effects empowerment to women in lower class income individuals. The micro-finance institution also empower on entrepreneurship which in turn increases employment opportunities as they were trained on how to invest and manage their finances. The study further established that MFI financed their customers‟ development projects such as small-scale businesses as well as in the expansion of old business through credit/loan. Finally the study found that most of the customers of micro-finance institutions were in the informal employment, and MFI has greatly reduced the gap between the lower and the middle class income individuals by offering financial services to the lower class.