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What Stands in the Way of Kenyan Women in the Manufacturing Industry?

Raising start-up capital is one of the biggest challenges for women entrepreneurs in Kenya’s key manufacturing sector, with banks requiring collateral that most of them do not have, a new study has found. Most women work or run businesses in the informal economy, and face numerous difficulties including pay and promotion disparities, as well as obstacles in accessing information, technology and finance to expand their enterprises. Manufacturing contributes about 10 percent of Kenya’s gross domestic product but women account for only 17 percent of the sector’s workforce, according to the study by the International Centre for Research on Women and Kenya Association of Manufacturers published Tuesday. Most women-owned manufacturing businesses are still micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in the informal sector – unable to grow and enter the formal economy. While there are some financial products on the market that were geared towards women, they do not include the sizable credit often required for manufacturing businesses.