Impact of lifelong learning on performance of women-managed small and medium enterprises: the case of KWFT Bank

Women’s economic empowerment is crucial in realising gender equality in Africa’s modern and ever-changing societal landscape. According to Ighobo (2019), Africa’s hopes for prosperity in the future can be attributed to the foundation laid by women who in the past were custodians of wealth, kingmakers, nation-builders and pillars of the society. Emerging literature indicates that programmes and policy interventions in small and medium enterprises (SMEs), e.g., by the Kenya Women Microfinance Bank (KWFT), lack capacity building, technical know-how and lifelong learning elements and thus condemn women to dead-end jobs and un-innovative career paths (Samman, 2016). The mechanism of using lifelong learning to empower women economically is currently not established.

The purpose of this evaluation is to produce evidence on what works to advance WEE in this programme. The explanatory sequential mixed methods design will be adopted for the evaluation. The quantitative component of the study will include a longitudinal survey of enterprises to collect data to assess the impacts of Biashara Loans on enterprise performance. The qualitative component will include case studies of successful and less successful women managed businesses.

The study will adopt robust estimation methods such as Slovenes’ formula to determine sample size of 1,000 comprising 400 trained KWFT women, 400 KWFT women undergoing training and 200 businessmen not trained. Purposive sampling methods will be employed to select 60 KWFT staff and six board of Directors, yielding a sample size of 1066. The project partner is KWFT and Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS). The expected outcome will be exposure of 20% women to lifelong learning programs to enhance their skills for economic self-empowerment by 2025.