WomenWork Network, Mastercard Foundation Offers Interest Free Emergency Loans for Kenyan Women

WomenWork in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, has launched Rebuild, a program that offers emergency loans and business expertise to women entrepreneurs in Kenya.

The Rebuild Program includes an emergency interest-free short term working capital loan for businesses, expert-driven business training and support from an engaging peer community of other women entrepreneurs – all delivered online.

This is the first time that WomenWork is running such an initiative in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation in Kenya. The emergency loan facility is aimed at providing a soft landing against COVID-19 which has disproportionately affected women-owned businesses.

The Rebuild  business support loans for women owned businesses by WomenWork is part of the Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program including three other organisations, with technical support from the Grassroots Business Fund and 4G Capital.

The commitment of Kenya Shillings 1.5 billion from the Mastercard Foundation to help to cushion the economy in Kenya will be channeled through four lead partner organisations in support of a series of interventions that will facilitate business continuity for over 25,000 Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises with less than ten employees and a turn-over below Kenya Shillings 500,000.  The loans are primarily targeted at businesses owned and run by the youth, particularly young women such as those in the WomenWork network.

The short-term emergency loans are for job protection and working capital payable in two months with no interest, collateral or fees to enable the businesses survive through the pandemic and beyond. The eligibility for the loans includes an outline of the proposed use of funds and ability to repay. Individual businesses will access loads starting from a minimum of Kenya Shillings 30,000. Borrowers can apply for additional emergency loans after repayment of the first one.

Quote from Asha Mweru, Co-founder WomenWork Network:

“The Rebuild Program is an exciting and significant milestone in the history of our organization. It provides us the opportunity to offer the much-needed support to our community of women entrepreneurs who are facing significant challenges arising from the effects of COVID-19, and have either closed or at the point of almost closing. We hope that our emergency funding will enable women to survive these devastating effects of COVID-19 on their businesses, and hopefully, protect against imminent job losses and stabilize their businesses through this period.”


Quote from Daniel Hailu, Regional Head Eastern and Southern Africa, Mastercard Foundation:

“We know even in ordinary times, women-owned businesses face difficulties accessing lines of credit. Such challenges have been exacerbated during these extraordinary days and have served as the motivation for the Mastercard Foundation to support a program with strong intentionality.  We are aiming to safeguard work opportunities enabled by the participating businesses and to mitigate the pandemic’s tendency to exacerbate gender inequalities.”

The loan facility is open to businesses across all sectors that are operational in Kenya for at least six months and have 51% or more women shareholding, 50 employees or less and generate revenues of up to five million Kenya Shillings per annum.

Successful applicants of the Rebuild Program by WomenWork in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation will receive the emergency funds directly to their mobile money accounts or to bank accounts.

In addition to the funding, program participants will not only receive a business needs assessment and be able to address any gaps with business experts but also join a network of diverse women entrepreneurs for peer support. Building off of the existing #WomenWorkKE Facebook group, all aspects of the program will be delivered online to meet the changing needs and preferences of women entrepreneurs.