Challenges facing women in micro enterprises in Mathare Slums, Nairobi City County.
There are large numbers of poor women in Mathare slum despite the numerous economic opportunities available for exploitation within the area and its environs.The few women who venture into micro enterprises encounter serious challenges that hinder them from prospering since most of the support is tailored for small and medium enterprises.The broad objective this study is to explore the major challenges that women entrepreneurs face in establishing and operating micro enterprises in Mathare slums. The objectives of the study were; to examine the challenges facing women in micro enterprises in Mathare slums and to examine the influence these challenges on the success of women in micro enterprises in Mathare slums. This study was conducted in Mathare which is one of the informal settlements in Nairobi City County. The study population comprised of all women who run grocery and food kiosks in the area. The study used convenience sampling method which involves selecting participants from whatever cases that happen to be available at any given time or place. A sample of 25 female participants was selected from the study population. This study used a cross sectional descriptive design. The main instrument used in the collection of primary data was a semi-structured questionnaire constructed to provide for both open and closed ended questions. The study found that respondents’ current enterprises had been in operation for less than 6 months. The challenges that women in the area faced in trying to access credit lack of collateral, an unwillingness to accept household assets as collateral and negative perceptions of female entrepreneurs by loan officers. Formal financial support proved to be too expensive for many women entrepreneurs. Challenges facing women entrepreneurs included lack of suitable location or sales outlet; stiff competition; low purchasing power of the local population; lack of marketing knowhow; seasonal nature of the business; lack of market information ;inadequate infrastructure; shortage of time (due to multiple tasks) ;shortage of raw materials and shortage of working capital. The results reveal that success of women enterprises depends on the formal education and the training received. The important challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in establishing and growing the business were finance, managing the business and making decisions about the business. Most women entrepreneurs in the area had very little or no education making it hard to run the business well.They were not able to manage business funds and ended up spending the funds on family needs which could lead to business bankruptcy. To fight poverty in Kenya, the pivotal place of women in society (specifically in rural areas) needs to be accepted and supported. Married women should be given support by their spouse in respect of finances, motivational encouragement, advice and actual involvement in the running of business.The public sector and formal financial organizations should be sensitized on the value of gender-balanced participation in the informal sector enterprises. Women entrepreneurs in Kenya should be taught on the value of being independent. This will stimulate them to do things on their own like acquiring property.