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Kenyan women today stand tall as we and the world at large mark 100 years of celebrating International Women's Day (1911-2011). This is because the Government of Kenya, the people of Kenya and the women of Kenya have not only talked but they have walked the talk. Three years ago, in August 2007, history was made as Women Enterprise Fund (WEF) was set up to address issues of financial exclusion of women from the mainstream economy. The Fund is at the forefront of addressing the issues of Women empowerment and gender equality (3rd MDGs). The Fund is a flagship project under the social pillar in the Vision 2030.
Therefore today, on behalf of all the women of Kenya, I want to sincerely thank our Government for recognizing women not only through setting up the Fund, but also through several other gains, for instance support for the education of the girl child through sensitization and conducive legislative framework.

This is not to downplay in anyway the challenges the women still face in our society, but today this being our birthday, our centenary celebrations, I want to focus not on the sorrows, marginalization, exclusions of all forms, but on the many bright days that we have had, the smiles, the laughter across the ridges, the joys of childbirth and the wholesome beauty of the African woman.

The vision of WEF is to socially and economically empower women for economic development whereas, the mission is to mobilize resources and offer access to affordable credit and business support services to women entrepreneurs. It emphasizes the need to look at women entrepreneurs holistically by going beyond mere credit extension but also including

Business support services such as: capacity building of women beneficiaries and their institutions, promotion of domestic and international marketing, development of decent work spaces including business incubators and promotion of linkages with big corporates.

By January 2011, a total of Kshs.1.15 billion had been disbursed to over 221,691 women countrywide using the two channels of Constituency Women Enterprise Scheme (C-WES) and Financial Intermediary Partners and over 3,874 women had been trained in business management skills.This is in line with the theme for this year's International Women's Day, which is "equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women".

Women's lives are being positively transformed through the Fund. " Most women confessed to being able to make more independent decisions after receiving the loan, with respect to purchase of health and educational services for their children and to purchase of a number of household items, including family property" as per a Baseline Survey on the Impact of Women Enterprise Fund (2010) done by National Commission on Gender and Development. Therefore, the establishment of the Fund is a sure way of achieving meaningful economic development, for a peaceful, stable and prosperous society and for promotion of human rights.

In its performance contract for 2009 – 2012, some of the Fund's targets are to train eight thousand women in entrepreneurship and lend money to 97,000 women countrywide.

As we celebrate the International Women's Day, Women Enterprise Fund would like to reaffirm her commitment to economically empower the women of Kenya by advancing credit for entrepreneurship as well as capacity building.

We also encourage the women to believe in themselves, in their capabilities and not shy away from aspiring for higher positions in the work place. We also urge them to come out in large numbers to borrow and repay our loans for enterprise development. We believe that if a woman is empowered, a family is empowered and by extension, the whole nation is empowered.

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