Influence of Micro-finance on economic empowerment of Women: A case of Kenya Women finance trust, Nakuru town, Kenya
Theoretically, microfinance is a critical tool to empower women belonging to poor households. Improving the women empowerment improves the infant and child survival, increases child schooling and results in increased expenditure on child education and health. If women were empowered to do more and be more, the possibility for economic growth becomes apparent. This study was therefore set to explore the influence of microfinance on economic empowerment of women: A case of KWFT in Nakuru Town. The study was carried out among women affiliated to KWFT that is a sample size of 338 members. The study was guided by four objectives: To asses how access to credit influence the economic empowerment of women; to assess how credit policy influence the economic empowerment of women; to determine how financial knowledge influence the economic empowerment of women; and to examine how training on finance influence the economic empowerment of women. The study used ex-post-facto survey design which employed use of questionnaires in gathering primary data. The population was 2750 members. A sample of 338 members was used. This sample was picked using stratified random sampling and proportionate sampling. Pilot testing was carried out on 10 members before the commencement of the study and errors in the data collection instruments were corrected. Data analysis was done using Statistical Package for Social Sciences and Ms Excel. Descriptive statistics was computed and data presented using tables. Study results were analyzed and presented qualitatively and quantitatively. In the first objective, the findings showed that 94.1% of the respondents accessed credit through introduction by staff. Access to credit had a positive influence on ownership of business enterprises and control over the business proceeds. It increased women‟s participation in economic activities, increased income levels enabling them to buy and own property and assets which generally improves their welfare. In the second objective, the study has shown that 95% of the respondents were comfortable with the credit policy established by the institution. Credit policy is a necessary requirement in defining and guiding the delivery of credit while commanding discipline in loan repayment for the institutional wellbeing. It defines the rules to be followed, state values and set standards which helps in protecting the interests of both the lending institution and the borrower. In the third objective, the study showed that 92% of the respondents had financial knowledge. This was as a result of attending the training programs offered by the institution. The study showed that financial knowledge and education of women helps in determining the success in business enterprise and management while enhancing women‟s confidence and bargaining power. In the fourth objective, the study showed that 97 % of the respondents had their business improved as a result of training offered. Training creates awareness on the issues affecting women and prepares or equips them on how to tackle and sustainably maintain a balancing act that meets their needs. It also determines the success in the management of business enterprises and their proceeds. It was recommended that the government should provide a level playing ground by offering inducing incentives that will nurture MFIs and bridge the gap left by formal lending institutions. MFIs are a powerful tool that can be used in realizing the MDGs in poverty alleviation and addressing the vision 2030 gender report in empowerment. MFIs need to build comprehensive training programs that will create and address gender empowerment in a holistic and enduring manner. Room for further studies is in the role of MFIs in addressing the youth unemployment challenge in the country. The society has to empower both men and women therefore; men empowerment can be studied further.