Innovative Access to Finance
Over the years, Echo Network Africa (ENA) has focused on empowering, positioning, and advocating for women with speciﬁc focus on young women, women with disabilities and women from marginalized communities. For ENAs interventions to be enhanced there is need to identify financial needs and gaps in the five focus areas i.e. Women empowerment, Positioning women, Girls in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics(STEM), Maternal health, TUVUKE Initiative, and gender mainstreaming that hinder women from achieving their full potential. Women are human beings with a myriad of needs. For instance, under women empowerment initiative ENA aims at giving women a voice to address human rights violation and reduce HIV prevalence that is fuelled Sex for fish trade (locally known as Jaboya practice) at the lake region. To address this problem, ENA discovered that women required financial access to enable them set up aquaculture cage farming as an alternative source of income for their families. In another instance based on our experience of maternal health in Meru County, ENA learned that there is a need to provide start-up capital for guardians/mothers of teenage mothers who need to be enrolled back to school. For this to be realized, ENA needs a pool of funds to bridge the financial needs to enable women realize their goals and this can only be achieved sustainably through revolving loan fund approach.
In 2019-2020 ENA launched and piloted revolving loan fund for women in aquaculture and maternal health focus area i.e.
· Aquaculture Revolving Loan Fund– Working capital to support purchase of aquaculture inputs, equipment for women.
· Maternal Health small grant loan – supporting start-up capital for families who have teenage mothers to enhance income/livelihoods and ensure re-entry of girls to school and cater for the Baby’s needs.