Socio-economic factors influencing rural women small scale entrepreneurs in accessing credit facilities in Marakwet district, Kenya
Cherono, Agnes Jepkemoi
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Second to agriculture, the informal sector is an important source of employment in Kenya. This makes the informal sector be seen as the solution to unemployment, food insecurity, poverty reduction and other associated problems. However, the sector faces many obstacles in its growth for example, lack of an enabling environment, lack of finance, gender problems and legal problems just to mention a few. Many studies have been done with respect to problems arising from financing of micro and small enterprises. Of importance in this study is the fact that there are regional and gender differences in accessing credit to micro and small businesses in Kenya and other regions. (GOK, 2002-2007). Women in rural informal sector are derailed by both social and economic factors in accessing credit from banks and other financial institutions. This is because of cultural, attitude and perceptions towards credit and the financial insititutions, educational levels, initial start up capital, security, and proximity to financiers. Recent studies have highlighted the social economic factors that influences access to credit in the informal sectors particularly those for urban women. This left a gap of regional and to some extends gender biases. The present study sought to identify the socio-economic factors that influence rural women in accessing credit. Of importance were the cultural, social and economic factors of the women which conflict leading to low utilization of credit facilities among the rural women. The study aimed at assessing the factors influencing rural women small scale entrepreneurs in accessing credit facilities in Marakwet district, Kenya in order to comer up with practical policy recommendations and strategies for its improvement. It was guided by the following objectives: 1. To determine the factors that influence access to credit for women micro and small scale enterprises (MSEs) in Marakwet District. 2. To examine perception of women MSEs on the factors influencing donors/financiers to access credit to MSEs. 3. To identify the proportion of women who are able to access credit without the support from the family members in Marakwet District. 4. To determine the role of government in influencing flow of credit into the area. 5. To make policy recommendations on promotion of women micro and small-scale enterprises. The sample of 90 women was drawn from the district's country council's master list and some randomly selected from their areas of operation who were running small businesses. The data was collected by use of the survey method principally structured interview and questionnaire with supplementary data from documents and group discussion. The data were analyzed using both qualitative and quantitative methods, which allowed for the examination of the influence of socio-economic factors on access to credit through cross tabulation and corresponding tests of significance using Chi Square. The findings of the study indicate that socio economic factors, notably, culture, attitude and perception, initial capital, level of education, proximity to financiers, social responsibilities, location of business, marital status, security and size of business have a little impact on women's access to credit as compared to, how long they have been in business, age, type of business in which the women operated. Constraints experienced by women are largely influenced by both the social and economic factors, therefore the study recommends that these factors need to be given considerable attention and acted upon in order to improve women's ability to access credit from any financial institutions especially the growing micro and small businesses. These study calls on future researches to be focused on comparative studies on access to credit by rural and urban women, researches covering the entire region of the marginalized societies and those focusing on comparisons between men and women in rural and urban area in specific sectors and their access to credit programme.
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