What is the WomenWork Network?

In 2017, two female entrepreneurs, Isis Nyong’o and  Asha Mweru started WomenWork Network in response to the stark realization that talented women in Africa are deliberately slowing down, starting micro-businesses, or opting out entirely from the formal economy due unique challenges hindering their growth prospects, such as access to capital, mentorship, and needs-based business training modules.

WomenWork Network is a technology-driven company in Kenya with the pan-African ambition that’s focused on the advancement of African women entrepreneurs through digital peer-to-peer communities, knowledge enhancement, and access to capital to improve their chances of success.

Presently , the WomenWork Network consists of  over 4,000 women entrepreneurs and professionals, hosted over 30 learning sessions, well attended by over 1,800   members.   For   more   information,   please  visit https://womenwork.co.ke 

What is the Rebuild Program?

The Rebuild Program is a partnership between WomenWork Network and the Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program. The Program aims to support women empowered MSMEs in Kenya. 

The Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program is designed to assist institutions and communities in Africa to weather and respond to the short-term, negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, while strengthening their resilience in the long-run. The program also enables knowledge sharing between micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and coaching on ‘how to’ navigate through prevailing market disruptions with content tailored to online and virtual delivery. 

The WomenWork Network works with a cross-section of women-empowered MSMEs across Kenya and has a long-standing established understanding of various economic sectors through its members and other value adding linkages. For more information on the Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program go to:  https://mastercardfdn.org/covid19-recovery-resilience-program/ 

Who will benefit from the Rebuild Program?

The Rebuild Program is aimed at supporting MSME’s in order to preserve jobs and businesses as a result of prevailing market disruptions. As a result of Government restrictions such as curfews and social distancing, businesses are seeing a significant drop in revenue, disrupted supply chains, and the added care burdens for women business owners among other challenges. Women and youth-led businesses may be among those most affected by COVID-19, and have therefore been identified as priority groups for support, as well as firms operating in agriculture, retail, healthcare, and manufacturing sectors, given the concentration of small businesses operating in these sectors. 

What are the benefits of the Rebuild Program?

The Program is aimed at supporting MSME’s in order to preserve jobs as a result of COVID-19 market disruptions. Businesses that have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak are eligible, within specific criteria, to receive a short-term concessional loan (at 0% interest, zero fees, no collateral requirements) and virtual training.

What is WomenWork Network gaining from this program?

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

How do you define the difference between MSME and SME businesses?

MSMEs are businesses with fewer than 10 employees and have an annual turnover Ksh500,000 and SMEs are businesses with more than 10 but fewer than 50 employees, and with an annual turnover below Ksh5,000,000

Who are the other program partners?

Grassroots Business Fund (GBF) is the fund manager for the programme and 4G Capital is the partner in charge of micro loan disbursement, including carrying out due diligence on the list of businesses that are to receive support.

How can I get the most out of this program?

All the companies in the program will be obligated to respond to periodic surveys, check-ins and meetings. If any technical needs are identified during this process, our Team will be able to introduce new training or business support services that can help you and future beneficiaries improve your resiliency. 

How long will the loan program be available?

The WomenWork Rebuild Program, and the support it is receiving from the Mastercard Foundation  COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program, is for a limited period of time during the COVID-19 pandemic and ends in mid-2021. We urge you to apply as soon as possible.

How can I stay updated about future program opportunities?

Become a member of WomenWork Network! The  programs are designed to address your needs, to work on your behalf to secure support to help women, like you, to not only survive but thrive in Kenya!

How can I tell if I’m eligible for the program?

If you are a micro or small enterprise with less than 50 employees, generate less than KES 5M in annual turnover or sales, and have been in operations for more than 6 months, and are facing Covid 19 related impact, then you should apply. We are looking to support viable businesses that have the potential to survive and return to normal business activities with the assistance of a loan and technical assistance. Your ability to repay the loan will be an important factor in determining your eligibility for the program. 

Note that this program is not for businesses engaged in alcohol, tobacco & drug-related businesses, weapons manufacture & war-related activities, gambling/betting, sex-related industries, or have ownership by Government or parastatal actors.

Do non-members of your organization qualify for the loans?

Applicants must be members of the WomenWork Network, visit our website to learn more about us: https://womenwork.co.ke 

Is there an age limit for applicants?

18 – 70 years old; however, applicants ages 18 – 35 will be prioritized

For how long should a business be operational to qualify? Are start-ups allowed?

Businesses must be in existence for at least 6 months prior to applying for funds

Are there any businesses that are not qualified to apply for the loans?

This program is not for businesses that have been in existence for less than 6 months and are engaged in alcohol, tobacco & drug-related businesses, weapons manufacture & war-related activities, gambling/betting, sex-related industries, or have ownership by Government or parastatal actors.

Can people who have existing loans elsewhere apply?

 Yes for as long as they are not in default. Applicants with loans against their MPESA accounts will be rejected.

Does my company need to be formally registered to qualify?

No, however you will need to present proof that you have the requisite business licenses and permits and have been operating as a business over the last six months.

How much funding could I receive?

Businesses will receive the funding they require in the form of microloans at Ksh31,200 per tranche,, it’s possible to request less than this minimum amount. Larger funding needs will be assessed on a case-by case basis.

Are there any charges, taxes applied to the loans?

None. The loans are interest-free; zero charges;  no collateral

When will  I need to repay the loan?

The short-term loans are due to be repaid after 2 months for micro-loans and after a maximum of 6 months for loans larger than Ksh31,200. 

How may I use the funds?

The loans are intended to support businesses with emergency needs and can be used for any legitimate business reason. Feel free to use the loan where your business needs it most whether it’s paying salaries, purchasing inventory or any other essential business need.

How do I receive my loan and how do I repay it?

You will receive your loan and repay it through M-Pesa; hence, an M-Pesa account is a requirement to participate in the Rebuild Program. We estimate that you will receive your loan within two and half weeks from the time that you submit your application.

How much of the loan is being disbursed by WomenWork Network?

All funds are managed by Grassroots Business fund (GBF) and Fourth Generation Capital (4G capital). GBF and 4G Capital will carry out due diligence on the loan applicants.

May I apply for additional loan(s)?

Repeat loans are possible, during the duration of the program and if you continue to meet the qualifying criteria.

What happens if I do not repay my loan?

Non-repayment of the loan means that the loan fund will not revolve to other businesses in need. Additionally, it reduces your chances of getting a future loan from our financial partner 4G Capital on other Mastercard Foundation initiatives.

Do you track how funds are spent?

Loan recipients are required to report on how funds are spent

How do you weed out fraudsters from the loan process?

Through the due diligence process, our partners will be conducting credit review on potential applicants including review of the applicants borrowing history and negative listings on the Credit Reference Bureau.

What’s the difference between the loan you are offering and those being offered by the other three organizations as announced by Mastercard Foundation on 6 August? – Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), Kenya National Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and, Grassroots Business Fund, and 4G Capital?

No difference each is serving organizations within its respective membership.  All loans are managed and by GBF and 4G Capital – we along with the other organizations identify the business to potentially receive loans.

How can I apply?

First you must be a member of WomenWork. You can apply for the program by going to https://rebuild.womenwork.co.ke and follow three simple steps:

1) create an account, 

2) take the eligibility quiz,

3) fill out application questions

To become a member, sign up here: https://womenwork.co.ke/contact/ 

Who can I contact if I have further questions?

For any further questions and assistance in completing the application, please contact WomenWork Team at rebuild@womenworknetwork.com.

How will participants be selected? 

We first confirm your eligibility for the requirements of the program such as having fewer than 50 employees and not operating in an unsupported sector, amongst others. Thereafter GBF and 4G Capital will review your technical eligibility by looking at elements such as your national ID number, M-Pesa account name, your borrowing history, and similar. The second element of the application considers the problems you are facing and helps to identify training opportunities tailored to match your present predicament.

How will I know if I have been approved? 

You will receive a SMS text message informing of your successful application , along with instructions for accessing the WomenWork technical assistance portal providing access to training content and a communication platform that allows us to stay in touch over the course of our engagement.

What kind of technical support will I receive over the course of the loan?

We will provide technical support, training and updates via our dedicated online portal (link coming soon). You will receive updates and important information via this portal or via SMS. The support will include business recovery strategies and financial and operational resiliency plans to help your business thrive.