Kenya Commercial Bank

How Samuel Njenga grew his school from 45 students to over 600 students

How Samuel Njenga grew his school from 45 students to over 600 students

Samuel Njenga is the executive director of the Saiwa Secondary School in Nairobi, Kenya. In 2009, he had just 45 students attending his school. By January 2020, the number of students had grown to 653. ConsumerCentriX spoke with Samuel to understand how Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) ’s emphasis on relationship management and business training helped grow his school.


Rwanda Entrepreneurs

Fidele Nshimiiyimana, a Business Development Advisor, prepares entrepreneurs to overcome hardships and thrive

This video was originally posted on the SME Response Clinic. Fidele Nshimiiyimana, a Business Development Advisor, prepares entrepreneurs to overcome hardships and thrive.


Giselle Mukanyandwi, a Business Development Advisor, to learn how she prepares entrepreneurs to overcome hardships and thrive

This video was originally posted on the SME Response Clinic. Giselle Mukanyandwi, a Business Development Advisor, to learn how she prepares entrepreneurs to overcome hardships and thrive.


Uganda Investment Authority

How the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) is helping women entrepreneurs outlast the pandemic

How the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) is helping women entrepreneurs outlast the pandemicThis is a custom heading element.

ConsumerCentriX works closely with Stanbic Bank Uganda on both the COVID-19 Business Info Hub and the Stanbic Business Incubator. This article originally appeared on the COVID-19 Business Info Hub.

Uganda Investment Authority

The Covid-19 Business Info Hub spoke with Winnie Lawoko-Olwe, Director of SMEs at the Uganda Investment Authority to learn how the Uganda Investment Authority is helping women entrepreneurs through the pandemic.

Ernest Wasake: Would you kindly introduce yourself and what you do at the Uganda Investment Authority?

Winnie Lawoko-Olwe:  My name is Winnie Lawoko-Olwe and I am the Director of SMEs at the Uganda Investment Authority.

Ernest Wasake: The COVID-19 Business Info Hub is looking to focus on how women entrepreneurs have been able not only to survive, but to thrive during the pandemic. Tell us about yourself, and your role at Uganda Investment Authority (UIA). How have you been able to survive and thrive during this pandemic?

Winnie Lawoko-Olwe: COVID-19 came as a major surprise to everybody. And because of the nature of the Standard Operating Procedures and the activities around the pandemic, it required fast thinking and fast adaptation. As UIA, we immediately conducted research that where a total of about 385 businesses were interviewed. And of these interviewed, about 30 percent were SMEs, and of those 30 percent, we were able to interview 32 percent specifically women.

We know very well that the SME economy of Uganda is a very much a cash economy. The pandemic affected most women and challenged how they balanced finances for the businesses and finances for their families.

The assessment found that the businesses are distressed and needed additional money. The assessment also found that a intervention was needed to help businesses change their models from the direct channel of selling off the street to the effective use of mobile money, networks to deliver your business, and developing business products to what clients need the most.

Under the Rising Woman campaign, Investment Authority is looking at how we can take the women’s businesses into a next level of digitization in terms of marketing their products, in terms of effectively using mobile payments as opposed to cash payments. And we are running trainings in six areas for the newly developed digitization product for the campaign. We are going to be able to come up with a clear product rollout in terms of digitizing and e-commerce adaptation

Ernest Wasake: How has the Investment Authority supported the SME sector during the pandemic?

Winnie Lawoko-Olwe: In this period of the pandemic, one of the major challenges is that our Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) have limitations on number of people that we can support. During the first part of the pandemic, our programs were supporting about a maximum of 10 people, thereby limiting outreach numbers. Given these limitations, UIA has started delivering capacity building programs that allow a few leaders from women organizations to be taken through the program and to pass on the lessons to other women. The training currently has narrowed down from entrepreneurial development to marketing and access to markets training programs. We are looking at digitization of business processes and we are also looking at using ICTs.

Ernest Wasake: Do you have testimonies of businesses that have thrived during the pandemic and what lessons can be learned from them?

Winnie Lawoko-Olwe: Yes, we have had businesses that have thrived so far.  Businesses that have thrived have been able to place themselves into the e-commerce platform. We have a number of ladies who are doing sanitizers and foodstuffs that are currently registered on the Zimba Mart (an online e-commerce platform created by ZimbaWomen) I must say that Zimba  Women is one of those women-in-tech initiatives that we think will help and support to take women to the next level, because it is owned by women that can easily understand the dynamics of women and the challenges that women are having. The second group that we work closely with is the Business and Professional Women of Kampala branch who actually access the women groups, identified which is the most appropriate time to be able to help them to sell their products online.

Ernest Wasake: What can be done to increase the level of women entrepreneurship in Uganda?

 Winnie Lawoko-Olwe: To increase the participation and the overall input from women entrepreneurs in Uganda means that we need to be able to identify the supporters or service providers in specific areas so that women activities and growth activities are not duplicated. I want to talk about the three key things that women face: The first is access to effective networks that allow them to grow within different areas of growth.  The second is linkage for growth in terms of the value chain. The third is affordable financing that looks at one’s internal competitiveness.

I know that the Stanbic Bank Incubator Platform is doing quite a bit in terms of getting those value chains together. But I think that if I’m a woman entrepreneur sitting in Busia, where do I go to get that information? And that’s where I think the most important opportunity is – to have a national portal, where every woman can access information where she is able to click networks and be able to access networks that she can work with. And last but not least, is the mentorship for growth – that means that we are looking at women who have excelled within those specific areas, to inspire and lead other women.

Also, I think there’s a missing gap, in terms of specific funds for SME women. If you talk today about the Emyooga(poverty eradication program) which is easily accessible, it requires one to be in a group to access the funds and yet, as an SME you’re not going to join a group. As an SME you need to be identified as a specific business that can walk into any place and is assessed based on your internal competitiveness, the ready market that you have for your product and the support systems that you need to be able to effectively utilize them. So I think those are the key things that we as Uganda Investment Authority are strongly pushing to address through interventions.

Ernest Wasake: What advise have you given to a woman entrepreneur on a personal level to help them grow.

Winnie Lawoko-Olwe: OK. On a personal level, I have supported Vantage Communication and Zimba Women. And this is specifically in terms of growing their business and looking at the environment. Both companies have fantastic products and they met the challenges in terms of setting up processes and procedures to manage the internal environment. And the advice here is: you are the entrepreneur, you know the business, you know what you want out of it. But take yourself back and think of growing this business scalability. Can you scale the business to the level you want working as an individual? And if you can, then it’s going to remain a niche product for a few people. And yet the demand for the product is great. The concept that we went through was one, assess your strengths and concentrate on this strength.

Secondly, look at the operatives. If you are taking this unique project out, you have any unique selling proposition. But in order for this proposition to be delivered, what are the steps you need? Do you need a marketing person? Do you need somebody to actually install, you know the uptake? And do you need somebody to do your finances? If you’re able to look at those critical business steps within the business, then it will help you to identify who internally would be the best person to manage it. If you do not have somebody internally, how would you then be able to take that? And that means you are recruiting. Are you able to price the product? Once you price the product, is it right for the market to be able to take it to the market?

I think from this learning perspective, there are two things that entrepreneurs need to know. As an entrepreneur, you do have a drive. You’ve seen the gap. You know that the market needs it. And that’s very important. But in terms of scalability of your product, in terms of taking your business to the market, you then need to look at those critical procedures, internal procedures that will allow you to take the product to the market. And the product will be the same today, tomorrow and the next day. That means there’s a standard of procedure. It’s a unique selling proposition and it’s a unique product that is going out to the market.


Thriving during Covid

Cleaning up after COVID-19: An Interview with Lydia Syson Naiga of NLS Services Limited

ConsumerCentriX works closely with Stanbic Bank Uganda on both the COVID-19 Business Info Hub and the Stanbic Business Incubator. This article originally appeared on the COVID-19 Business Info Hub.

COVID-19 Business Info Hub spoke with Lydia Syson Naiga, Business Development Manager at NLS Services Limited to understand how her business has weathered through the pandemic and to hear her advice for other women entrepreneurs.

Ernest Wasake: Thank you for joining us today. Can you introduce yourself and describe your business?

Lydia Syson Naiga: My name is Lydia Syson Naiga and NLS Services Limited is our business. We deal with medical waste disposal, hazardous waste disposal, and industrial waste. We pick up medical waste from different hospitals, around Kampala and the rest of the country, Kampala mainly, and take it to our incineration plant for disposal.  As of April, we have been in business for 11 years and currently, we’re employing 52 staff members.

Ernest Wasake: Can you tell us about how much of the market you control and what your business means in terms of its significance in the market.

Lydia Syson Naiga:  We have around 80 percent of the market share. Most of the private hospitals, actually almost all private hospitals are our clients. Recently, we managed to penetrate [to work with] the government referral hospitals.

Ernest Wasake: Let us understand a little bit more about your business. How has NLS waste management fared during the pandemic?

Lydia Syson Naiga: As essential workers, we continued to work through the lockdown because we had to pick up medical waste and there is no way medical waste could be left in the hospitals. I would say we didn’t get really affected because we have never stopped working. The only issue we had was making sure some staff members came to work, given the covid-19 travel restrictions. Some of our staff had to work from home, which wasn’t something we were ready for. That was a bit of a struggle.

 Ernest Wasake: Tell us what practical tools or skills you put in place to survive? What worked and what didn’t?

Lydia Syson Naiga: We just had to make sure we had to be very strict on the protective wear policy. We had to do mass testing every month for all staff members. The fact that our staff actually have to go on the ground and interact in these particular places where we have to actually pick up COVID waste meant we had to be very cautious.

 Ernest Wasake: Is there any other part of your business that you had to change or adjust as a result of COVID, either to increase your business or to protect business?

Lydia Syson Naiga: We have clients that have been struggling because their earning numbers have dropped. This has affected their payments flow, as a result we had to make sure we have money to run the business. You can’t tell a client “because payments are delayed, we can’t pick up your waste.” We had to just work with what resources we had and we made sure we save on every penny because it’s going to be tough ahead. The pandemic has also affected our suppliers, but we managed to get through.

Ernest Wasake: How can businesses position themselves for the times ahead? Now that we’re entering a different phase of the pandemic that will continue to shape the economy?

 Lydia Syson Naiga: The virus isn’t about to end today and It’s not going to end tomorrow. We just have to work with what we have and cut costs if we can. People have to be very careful with their operations and plan because enterprises are closing abruptly due to the effects of the pandemic.

Ernest Wasake: Could also tell us where do you see NLS Waste Management Services going in the next couple of years?

Lydia Syson Naiga: In the next couple of years, I think we will be the next big waste management company in Uganda and in Africa once we have aligned particular products, that we will roll out.

Ernest Wasake: If you had any personal last message that you can give to women entrepreneurs, what lessons would you share?

Lydia Syson Naiga: Be very clear and be consistent. If you think it’s going to be a walk in the park, it’s never a walk in the park, so it’s persistence and consistency. If you tell someone the contract, say this, it says we shall pick up your waste or shall do this – live within the contract. Don’t go beyond.

 

 


Supporting Women Entrepreneurs

The Stanbic Business Incubator enables women entrepreneurs to reach their full potential as business owners

By Ana Singh, Communications & Marketing Manager at ConsumerCentriX
 ConsumerCentriX works closely with Stanbic Bank Uganda on both the COVID-19 Business Info Hub and the Stanbic Business Incubator. This article originally appeared on the COVID-19 Business Info Hub.

Through business development services, training, networking events, and mentoring, the Stanbic Business Incubator offers an enabling ecosystem for entrepreneurs to protect and grow their businesses. The incubator also provides participants with opportunities to engage with subject matter experts and access markets and finance. By joining the Stanbic Business Incubator, women entrepreneurs can take advantage of opportunities that they may have not otherwise had.

Hudah Tamale is no stranger to pivoting. When she began her business in 2015, she thought she could make money selling cakes. To attract new customers, she started offering herbal teas as a marketing strategy. However, she soon found herself becoming more excited over her tea products. After recognizing where her true passion lay, she shifted her business strategy and started focusing entirely on selling tea.

When the COVID-19 lockdown began, Tamale found herself needing to pivot her business, Nash Royal Tea, again. With social distancing measures in place, she needed to rely more heavily on digital marketing strategies. Luckily, she had already learned many of the skills that she would need through the Stanbic Business Incubator.

Today, she has a digital marketing strategy incorporated into her business plans and maintains an active online presence that has helped her through the pandemic. For women entrepreneurs struggling, she stresses the importance of digitizing. “If you don’t have an online presence right now, you are almost nonexistent in business right now,” she warned.

Women entrepreneurs in Uganda and worldwide have had to face a rapidly changing business environment while still taking care of their children full-time once the schools closed. Even in regular times, women entrepreneurs face well-documented barriers that prevent them from reaching their full potential. Men are more likely to have the right information, training, and guidance to inform their dealings with financial institutions and plan effectively for their businesses in the long-term.

Through business development services, training, networking events, and mentoring, the Stanbic Business Incubator offers an enabling ecosystem for entrepreneurs to protect and grow their businesses. The incubator also provides participants with opportunities to engage with subject matter experts and access markets and finance. By joining the Stanbic Business Incubator, women entrepreneurs can take advantage of opportunities that they may have not otherwise had.

“Women entrepreneurs are a great resource to this country from our training we have come to realize that women play a very vital role in how enterprises are run and how enterprises are actually sustained over a long period of time. Our commitment to the support of women especially the women entrepreneurs is one that we cannot deviate from. We have for a long time decided to have a quota set for women entrepreneurs to be able to see them participate and enjoy the benefits of our training program. our commitment, therefore, is not a one-off intervention. Many women have been part of this whole story especially after the realization that the lockdown or COVID was going to impact many businesses for a long time. We’re certain that we can be very much in partnership with a lot of women entrepreneurs to scale them to further their dreams.”  said Tony Otoa, Executive Director, Stanbic Business Incubator Limited.

Meet Rachel Lubega

When she heard about the incubator from a friend, Rachel Lubega had already co-owned her corporate event business, Quality Management Services LTD, for 18 years. However, despite the longevity of her business, she believed she still had room to grow. “I felt excited because I love learning, getting training, and gaining new skills,” she said.

As part of the training, she joined a cohort of service providers that included some of her competitors. Through networking and personal bonding, she began to see her competition as potential business partner. “We even were able to get business together. It was great having to create that kind of relationship with our competitors,” she added.

Not only was she able to create business opportunities through networking, but she became more adept at auditing, bookkeeping, and digital marketing. To the benefit of her business, she transferred many of these new skills she was learning to her employees.

Like Tamale, Lubega found particular value in the seminars on digital marketing. “At the time, we had the website, but it wasn’t very active. But now I know the importance of having an active website.” She added that implementing digital strategies and maintaining a web presence has made a beneficial difference for her business during the pandemic.

As businesses across Uganda adjust to the “new normal”, so has the Stanbic Business Incubator. “We have had to rethink our program, going away from the typical classroom lecture mode into online tutorials and lectures,” said Otoa in a recent interview. He added that the shift made entrepreneurs hopeful because of a shared need for information on financial management, governance, and other issues critical to business survival in an economic downturn.

Participants are still able to network at the Incubator even though the classes are online.

“They introduce themselves at the start of every session and are given provision to state what each of their businesses is about, share experiences, and share their contact information with other participants,” said Nadia Ayaa, Program Coordinator, Stanbic Business Incubator Limited.

The switch from a classroom setting to online tutorials also creates more flexibility for women entrepreneurs, who often balance household responsibilities and business ventures. Instead of going to a classroom, they can access the training at the comfort of their home or office.

For more information about the Stanbic Business Incubator Limited, please call
0312 226 700


Women Entrepreneurs

How the SME Response Clinic addresses gender information asymmetries

By Ana Singh, Communication & Marketing Manager at ConsumerCentriX and Ida Ingabire, Secretariat at New Faces, New Voices Rwanda

Investing in women’s entrepreneurship is good for business and essential for socio-economic growth. Women are more likely than men to invest a higher proportion of their income back into their families and communities; yet, most women-owned businesses across Africa remain stagnant at the micro-level, unable to grow.

The reasons holding them back are well-documented. First, women are less likely to access sufficient financing to grow their businesses, greatly hindered by challenges due to information asymmetries that put them at a distinct disadvantage to their male counterparts. In comparison, men are more likely to have access to the right information, training, and guidance to inform their dealings with financial institutions and plan effectively for their businesses in the long-term.

During “business as usual,” information asymmetry makes it challenging for women entrepreneurs to keep up. During a global pandemic, when updates related to financial products or services and government measures are issued multiple times a day, the information gaps can become even more unbalanced – leaving women entrepreneurs even further behind.

In late March, our team recognized the hardship that all entrepreneurs were facing when finding the right COVID19-related information for their businesses. After noticing there was no centralized platform that housed all the crucial updates happening across Rwanda’s private and public sectors, the SME Response Clinic platform was launched to address this gap and support entrepreneurs with relevant information. ConsumerCentriX, in partnership with Access to Finance Rwanda and the Private Sector Federation of Rwanda, created the website.

After reviewing data of the SME Response Clinic platform’s performance from the first few weeks, the team immediately recognized a gender problem when it came to web traffic. Only 30 percent of all visitors were women. Read this article to learn how we closed the gap. Only 30 percent of all visitors were women. Through further examination and analysis, it became apparent that the gender gap in web traffic was a symptom of the gender-neutral content and promotion of the platform on social media.

 

Recognizing a Problem 

As a new platform beginning with zero followers, we relied heavily on an aggressive social media strategy. We launched a Twitter campaign and regularly targeted users on Facebook who exhibited entrepreneurial behavior and interests.

However, this social outreach strategy was not reaching women. For Twitter, a look into the data revealed that a staggering 93 percent of accounts using the campaign’s hashtag were men. While the gender gap on Facebook wasn’t as stark, men were still 73 percent more likely to see an advertisement and 80 percent more likely to engage with the content.

Two possible explanations shed light on our limited initial success in reaching women entrepreneurs in Rwanda. First, women in Rwanda are less likely to have access to phones with the internet and are less likely to be digitally literate than their male counterparts. Web traffic data indicates that roughly 80 percent of the SME Clinic website’s visitors access content through a mobile phone – putting women at a clear disadvantage.

The second barrier was the content itself as there was no particular gender lens in our early articles and videos. Instead, by producing only gender-neutral content, we were exacerbating the existing information asymmetries. We knew that we had to urgently switch up our strategy to reach women entrepreneurs with the right information to support their businesses throughout the economic downturn.

Mobilizing women entrepreneurs to access the right information for their businesses

In this video, Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Deputy Governor of National Bank of Rwanda and Chairperson of New Faces, New Voices Rwanda, and Ida Ingabire, Secretariat of New Faces New Voices Rwanda, explain the barriers women face when accessing information for their businesses and how SME Response Clinic can bridge that gap.

Developing Content through Partnerships

To create more compelling and meaningful content for women entrepreneurs, the SME Response Clinic partnered with New Faces New Voices Rwanda. From their own experience engaging with women entrepreneurs, New Faces New Voices emphasized the importance of making information available online and the necessity of mobilizing women to access the knowledge through a personal touch.

Though the partnership with New Faces New Voices, the SME Response Clinic delivered new content specifically for women entrepreneurs. Once finalized, we promoted on Facebook, specifically targeting women users who exhibited entrepreneurial interests.

However, to be seen as a platform that women could trust required a more involved personal touch. We decided to produce a Facebook event specifically for women entrepreneurs. The event allowed women entrepreneurs to ask high-level government officials, including Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, a Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda, and private sector leaders about new government measures in place to support their business survival and growth.

While previous events hosted by the SME Response Clinic were held in English, the decision was made to have the conversation in Kinyarwanda at New Faces New Voices’ recommendation. By using the native dialect of Rwanda, there was a shared goal to make the event more accessible for women entrepreneurs, particularly those at the micro-level.

To increase attendance, New Faces New Voices reached out directly to their member through phone calls, bulk SMS, email and WhatsApp group messages. This outreach effort then turned into technical assistance support during the event, as staff helped users who were having issues accessing the live stream video. In the end, the panelists’ star power and the hard work of the organizers paid off. Even though only women received promotions for the event, the total number of users who viewed the live session outnumbered the turnout of our previous events on Facebook Live.

 

Final Thoughts

The event’s success meant that for the first time since the launch of the website, we were able to achieve gender parity in our weekly visitors. In the weeks and months following the event, we have learned that we can continue to achieve parity in weekly visitors if we publish content and produce events specifically for women. If we do not publish this targeted content, the gender gap returns without fail.  While this overall shift in strategy requires more work and depends on successful external partnerships, women entrepreneurs’ benefits are too significant to ignore. In the coming months, the SME Response Clinic will continue to engage women entrepreneurs with events and relevant content for their businesses.


How Wanjiru Mbugua turned her side hustle into a thriving business

Watch and listen to Wanjiru share her experience of participating in the KCB Women in Business training program and how it helped her transform her side hustle into a thriving business. This video was filmed, edited, and produced by ConsumerCentriX for IFC and FMO


KCB Bank

KCB Bank: Focusing on Women SMEs and non-financial services is a win-win for all

 

KCB Bank in Kenya explains how its tailored approach to the Women Small and Medium Enterprise (WSME) market – a combination of financial services and non-financial services including training, networking, and international trade opportunities – is delivering bottom-line benefits to both the bank and the WSMEs it serves.  ConsumerCentriX produced this video for IFC and FMO as part of a larger publication on the benefits of integrating NFS into a women-focused SME banking proposition


Women-led SMEs

PUBLICATION | Non-Financial Services: The Key to Unlocking the Growth Potential of Women-led Small and Medium Enterprises for Banks

Non-Financial Services: The Key to Unlocking the Growth Potential of Women-led Small and Medium Enterprises for Banks

DOWNLOAD REPORT

Women-led small and medium enterprises (WSMEs) represent a great opportunity to banks: women own 34 percent of private businesses globally, including almost six million formal SMEs in the developing world. Yet WSMEs’ enormous potential remains largely untapped due to systemic barriers facing women-led enterprises globally.  Providing nonfinancial services (NFS) alongside finance is an effective means for financial institutions to tap into the enormous potential of women-led enterprises.

In collaboration with IFC and FMO, ConsumerCentriX is proud to announce the release of the publication “Non-Financial Services: The Key to Unlocking the Growth Potential of Women-led Small and Medium Enterprises for Banks.”

Based on newly minted research, this publication examines the benefits to banks of integrating NFS that can help mitigate these barriers into a women-focused SME banking proposition. As part of the study, ConsumerCentriX surveyed 34 banks worldwide on their approach to and measurement of nonfinancial services, with a focus on their offerings to businesses owned by women.

KCB Bank: Focusing on Women SMEs and non-financial services is a win-win for all

Non-financial services were instrumental in growing Patricia Mwangi’s business in Kenya

NFS from her bank helped Wanjiru Mbugua turn a side hustle into a thriving business

Intensive analysis of five SME banking models, in addition to the survey results, previously published case studies, and other resources, found that well-integrated NFS offers for WSMEs yield positive return on investment (ROI) within one to two years. This is demonstrated through four key metrics: increased interest income; share of wallet, which includes cross-sell, deposit volume and fee income, including fees charged for NFS participation; loyalty; and reduced risk.

The publication also identifies four best practices in design and execution of WSME-focused NFS, which banks looking to capitalize on this opportunity can follow:

  1. Tailor the proposition to the needs and profiles of different customer segments
  2. Provide an integrated, one-stop experience for financial and non-financial services
  3. Build institutional alignment to drive results
  4. Integrate measurement into program design and delivery

Alongside Cathleen Tobin, ConsumerCentrix’s Anna Gincherman and Benedikt Wahler served as primary authors to the report. Their efforts were supported by the broader ConsumerCentriX team, including Istvan Szepesy and Dora Solymos for data analytics and Ana Singh for video production and report design. “We hope that key insights from the report will encourage banks to expand their value propositions for women enterprises and invest in strengthening NFS ecosystems for WSMEs,” said Gincherman.