Factors inhibiting access to micro finance by rural women groups in Kiminini Constituency, Trans Nzoia County, Kenya
Micro financing women has been a strategy to improve the livelihoods of women through poverty alleviation, and in the process bridge the gender gap. The inequality between men and women has been manifested in many ways the world over where it has been difficult for women to access basic and social needs as compared to men. Women have been under represented in many sectors including employment and access to financial services because of many factors that tend to work against them (Pitt, 1999). The purpose of this research was to identify some of the factors that inhibit rural women groups from accessing micro finance. There were five objectives that guided this research study. These were: to determine whether the cost of credit inhibits access to micro finance by rural women groups; to assess whether awareness of existing micro finance opportunities to women groups inhibit access to micro finance; to assess if entrepreneurial culture and management skills by rural women groups inhibit access to micro finance; to determine if collateral requirements made by MFls to rural women groups inhibits access to micro finance; and to assess if literacy levels inhibits access to micro finance by rural women groups. Several studies have been carried out by scholars, be it individual or as institutions, and many consistencies and inconsistencies have been reported. The literature section of this study has analyzed available empirical data as concerns the topic and title of this research. The identified variables of the study have been discussed and assessed to validate why this study has to be carried out. Evidently a lot of research on micro finance has indicated how micro finance has succeeded in empowering women, there is very little knowledge indicating the contrary. Researches that relate to the research topic however have been carried out in urban settings. Descriptive survey was the preferred design for this research study. The rationale for choosing this design was because it involved the process of collection data from existing population units with no particular control over factors that may affect the characteristics of interest in the study (Langridge; 2004, Berinsky; 2008).The data was collected with the use of questionnaires that were administered by the researcher and her assistants. This method was preferred for use with this category of participants, because of its advantageous nature of eliciting more discussions with the participants and exploring issues that were not necessarily linked to the study. Furthermore, this method is valuable because the respondents are not limited to giving specific or fixed answers and the interviews will cover a wide range of issues, thus minimizing the possibility of 'missing out' on an important subject during the discussions (Langdrige, 2004). A mixed mode design was adopted to analyze the data. This research design was preferred due to its ability to reduce a lot of data and present them in frequency tables and percentages. The mean was preferred as a measure of central tendency. This is because it takes into account all (each) score in the distribution therefore the effect of very low or very high will reflect in the mean and it is stable. Research findings indicate that, taking all the five factors (cost of credit, awareness, literacy levels, collateral requirements, and entrepreneurial culture and management skills) constant at zero, the livelihoods of the residents will be 2.869. The study recommends that governmental and non-governmental organizations should undertake a range of initiatives to create awareness of opportunities, increase entrepreneurial culture as well as raising literacy levels among women and women groups in Kenya. The research findings were presented in frequency tables and percentages calculated. This analysis allowed distinct comparisons of outcomes and discussions, conclusions and recommendations to be made from the findings. The analysis was done with the use of SPSS.