Effect of women participation in small-scale business on their socio-economic status in Simur-Kondiek sub-location, Siaya county, Kenya
APOPA, Nyabaya Henry
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Small-Scale Businesses (SSB) play key roles in socio-economic development. Over the past decades, women participation in SSB has been limited by lack of financial support, knowledge and skills. Since 2006, the government of Kenya has put emphasis on the informal sector with special regard to women participation in SSB by creating a sustainable Kenya-based loan provision (The Youth and Women Enterprise Fund) for women to get trainings, access loans and banking services. Despite this new government initiative, it is critical to understand the influence this approach has towards attracting more women to participate in business and potential social and economic benefits they derive therein. This study therefore, examines the effect of women participation in smallscale business, in Simur-Kondiek Sub-Location Siaya County. Specific objectives are, to examine sources of financial services accessed by women participating in small scale business, to investigate the social and economic benefits women derive from participating in small scale businesses and to analyse the challenges faced by women from participating in their SSBs in Simur-Kondiek Sub-Location. The study was guided by Blumberg's (1984) empowerment theory which states that by increasing the strength of a peoples' control over resources improves the economic and social independence is the surest way of improving their well-being and that of the nations. The study population was 1491 women involved in SSB and using Glen Israel's formula of year 1992, a sample size of 94 was drawn. Systematic random sampling technique was used to select the respondents. The research adopted both cross-sectional and descriptive study design. The key research approach adopted both quantitative and qualitative data. Primary data included key informants, two groups of ten members for focus group discussions and a direct observation. Key informants were purposively selected and interviewed using a key informant guide and women in focus group discussion (FGD) were taken through an indepth interview. Questionnaires data were analyzed using descriptive statistics (SPSS) and presented using tables, percentages and frequencies. Qualitative data was analyzed using content analysis to generate themes which were also supported by verbatim quotations. The study results found that involvement and participation in SSB has improved access to basic financial services as denoted by the initial saving mechanisms preferred and the participation in SSBs at present. It also revealed an improvement in the perception of the women's social standing and ability to meet their recurrent and emergency obligations without necessary seeking for assistance. In conclusion, the government financial trust funds initiated scheme was the surest way of influencing women to take up business opportunities and to ensure financial stability. It was evident that less business opportunities arise due to the small amounts or sums of money involved hence a major challenge experienced by SSB women. The study recommends that if such a model was developed and explored, and new strategies devised not only to meet the Kenyan Government's objectives in the field of small business, but also to impact the progress of women, then this is the surest way to ensure that women reach their full potential.