The Women Enterprise Development Fund, Uwezo Fund, and the Youth Enterprise Development Fund will be wound up into a single fund dubbed Biashara Kenya Fund according to a gazette notice.
Government has been supporting MSMEs through various affirmative action funds including the Uwezo Fund, Youth Enterprise Development Fund, and Women Enterprise Development Fund. To increase efficiency, eliminate overlaps, and give special priority to businesses owned by youths, women, and people living with disabilities, CS Henry Rotich while reading the budget statement noted that the three Funds will be consolidated into one to be known as Biashara Kenya Fund.
In a public notice published by the National Treasury, the new fund will draw its portions from allocations made to it by Parliament, income from investments it makes, grants and donations from different State partners. Already, the government made a Ksh 2 billion allocation to it in the 2018/19 financial year.
“Given the challenges that MSMEs are facing in accessing credit from the banking sector and conscious of the need to spur business activities. We will be launching an “SME Credit Guarantee Scheme” in a few weeks’ time, to deepen access to credit by SMEs without being subjected to complex application procedures and collateral requirements. This together with Biashara Kenya Fund and SME Fund will address the very reason why interest rate caps were introduced,” read the budget statement.
Government procurement opportunities for marginalized groups will now be accessible with the help of the funds, which will also help promote, develop and access them.
“The purpose of the fund shall be to provide loans directly to women, youth and persons with disability for various enterprises. These marginalized groups shall be given preference while processing loans by the Fund,” read part of the notice.
Administration of the new state-sponsored development fund will be overseen the fund’s advisory board as per the new rules. A Chief Executive Officer who will be appointed by the Gender Services Cabinet Secretary will undertake the day to day administration of the fund.
The Board will review the financial performance of the fund before submitting its financial statements to the Auditor General. It will also guide the Cabinet Secretary responsible for gender affairs on how to go about the lending process as well as develop the fund’s policy guidelines.