Kenya-based consumer goods manufacturer, Bidco Africa Ltd, becomes the 23rd company in Kenya to sign to the WEPs – a UN Women and UN Global Compact initiative guiding the private sector towards gender equality and empowerment of women in the workplace, marketplace and the community.
The formal signing was preceded by a forum on “Connecting Women to Viable Markets” bringing together women small holder farmers, agriprenerus, financiers and from different parts of Kenya including Embu, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Muranga, Trans Nzoi, Kiambu and Machakos. The forum created a platform to share experiences of the Kenyan agriculture sector, through a gender lens. It also gave participants an opportunity learn about various financial products and services as well as ICT based solutions in the market which could expand their businesses.
The forum provided a rare opportunity for companies that are already signatories to the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) such as Diamond Trust Bank, State Bank of Mauritius (SBM Bank) and Safaricom to network with non-signatories such as Housing Finance to share knowledge and good business practices as well as explore coalitions/partnerships to empower women at the workplace, market place and in the community.
“I am happy to know that a small-scale farmer like me can be recognized and actually have a chance to grow my business”
Sylvia Kuria, Organic farmer from Limuru
Bidco works with over 30,000 farmers across Kenya contracted to supply oil seeds (Soybeans and Sunflower) for use in manufacturing fats and edible oil products that relies on a large number of small scale farmers and suppliers – many of them women. WEPs will strengthen Bidco’s efforts to improve women’s access to markets and finance across its supply chain.
WEPS in Kenya:
Since 2016 UN Women Kenya has been leading gender mainstreaming in the private sector, using the WEPs as a guiding framework for engaging companies with a dedicated WEPs initiative that seeks to:
1. Raise awareness on women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace and community;
2. Advocate for WEPs and build the number of signatories
3. Deepen relationships with companies to promote gender equality
Through the WEPs, UN Women supports regular learning and linking dialogue forums that bring together existing and potential signatories including other stakeholders such as CSOs, academia and government institutions. These dialogue forums focus on knowledge exchanges of experiences, good corporate practices in the area of future of work, creating enabling work environments, and lessons learned.
To date, over 40 organizations, drawn from various sectors such as finance, agriculture, trade, manufacturing, transport, cleaning among others are part of the WEPs Kenya Chapter. Kenya has the second highest number of signatories to WEPs after South Africa (55).