Effects of finance accessibility on livelihood of small women traders in Starehe Constituency of Nairobi County, Kenya
Gathogo, Catherine W
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Women are more affected by poverty than men. This is mainly due to traditional and social practices governing land ownership, control over resources and benefits accruing from those resources. In addition, women have multiple roles in reproduction and caring for family members which place serious limitations on their time. Despite these challenges many women are engaged in small income generating businesses. In their effort to empower women, various organizations have come up with loan facilities to fund women's businesses with the aim of strengthening their economic base to enable them provide for their families. The study attempted to assess whether accessibility to these funds has improved the livelihood of women. A descriptive survey design was used in the study. The study targeted a sample of 200 women with small businesses in Nairobi City. Data was collected using questionnaires with closed and open ended questions. The data collected was analyzed using statistical package for social sciences, in order to obtain descriptive statistics such as means, percentages and frequencies, while results were presented using tables. The study found that women traders obtained finance from various institutions e.g. Rotating and Accumulating Savings and Credit Associations, Micro Finance Institutions, Informal Lenders, Non-governmental Organizations, Women Enterprise Fund and Commercial Banks. It was also evident that most respondents accessed loans from Rotating and Accumulating Savings and Credit Associations. The study also found that a significant number of women (63%) had borrowed loans to fund their businesses. However, they experienced some impediments in borrowing such as complicated loan application processes, lack of knowledge on suitable sources of finance as well as lack of business skills training. Access to finance generally led to increase in income with the resultant improvement in the livelihood of the respondents. The study therefore recommends that the financial institutions which target women borrowers should also provide training in business skills for their borrowers, in order to ensure that there is proper utilization of funds to enable womens' businesses to grow. Financial Institutions should also simplify loan application processes in order to attract more women borrowers.