Factors Influencing Women Participation In Government Procurement: A Case Of Nyeri Central Sub-county, Kenya
Public procurement is increasingly being recognized as a vehicle to help governments achieve social goals and sustainable economic development. The government procurement market often makes up 10 to 15 per cent of the GDP of developed countries and up to 30 to 40 per cent of the economies of developing countries. In Kenya for example, the government spends approximately 70% of its budget on procurement. Given the fact that governments are the largest buyers in any economy, government procurement offers a unique, financially sustainable avenue to empower women and reduce poverty. Public procurement as a tool to promote participation by women-owned businesses is therefore, compelling from a developmental and economic perspective. Increasing opportunities for more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to engage in the delivery of goods and services can result in improved outcomes for alleviation of poverty and increasing gender equality, given that women-owned businesses are disproportionately in this sub-sector of the economy. In this regard, governments including Kenya have institutionalized different measures to increase access to government procurement by different target groups, including women. However, despite the numerous opportunities available in government procurement, few women effectively participate in this sizeable market. The main objective of the study was to establish factors influencing women participation in government procurement in Kenya. The specific objectives were to assess how economic, socio-cultural, governmental and technical factors influence women participation in government procurement. Data was collected from 395 women respondents from Nyeri Central Sub-County using self administered questionnaires; and interview guides were used for procurement officers, WEF officers, Uwezo fund officers and AGPO officers. The data was analysed with the aid of Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) computer software. Qualitative data was analysed through content analysis, while quantitative data was analysed through descriptive statistics. Data was presented in the forms of percentages and tables. The research established that access to financial capital, price competition, Government contracts value, awareness, social systems, legislation, capacity building programs, corruption, procurement requirements, tender processes and bureaucracy individually and collectively affect participation of women in Government procurement. However, the benefits that SMEs and women-owned businesses have to offer in terms of enhancing government efficiency and productivity mean that we should act to surmount existing challenges. Therefore the study recommended that the Government should consider lending to women as individuals as opposed to groups; standardize and simplify the tender process and documentation; increase training, sensitization and capacity building programs; as well as seal existing loopholes in procurement legislations and policies. Women, on their part, should be more proactive, vigilant and alert on existing rights and opportunities in Government procurement.
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