LEGEND is funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and will apply a Lead Firm approach while leveraging MEDA’s experience in Gender Lens Investing. Through this approach, LEGEND will contribute to improved economic prosperity for women, youth, and other underrepresented populations in the aquaculture, horticulture, and poultry sectors in Kenya.
LEGEND is an acronym for Leveraging Equality for Gender-Inclusive Economic Development project. The LEGEND project will provide support to hundreds of SMEs, thousands of SEs, and 100 associations, and offer women and youth essential resources and training.
Improved socio-economic prosperity of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and small entrepreneurs (SEs), especially women and youth, in the aquaculture, horticulture, and poultry sectors in targeted counties in the Lake Zone (Busia, Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Migori) and Coast (Taita Taveta, Kilifi, Kwale, Mombasa) regions of Kenya.
The project will support 250 SMEs, 30,000 SEs and 100 associations and other eco-system actors in targeted regions, prioritizing engaging with and addressing the challenges facing women and youth by increasing access to information, inputs, technology, financing, and markets through technical assistance, matching grants and investment capital.
While Kenya is one of the wealthier countries in Africa, high levels of inequality and poverty remain, especially in rural areas and among women, youth, and other marginalized populations. The Government of Kenya has set ambitious economic growth goals but to achieve them, it needs to support the growth of local businesses, particularly in the agriculture sector which continues to employ the majority of the country’s population, including women. The Blue Economy (including fisheries and aquaculture) is one sector that has strong growth potential, but high levels of gender inequality and risks of gender-based violence pose challenges for equitable growth.
SEs in rural Kenya have limited access to finance, land, and technical support. This lack of access to resources is exacerbated for women who lack control over time and resources and are increasingly impacted by climate change. In the Lake Zone and Coastal areas of Kenya, there are also high rates of poverty, and gender and human rights constraints. At the SME level, access to capital continues to be a major barrier for women-owned businesses who are less likely to receive financing compared to their male counterparts. Gender Lens Investing (GLI) shows strong potential to direct finance towards women-led and gender-inclusive businesses. However, in Kenya, the GLI ecosystem is still emerging.
To address challenges at the SE level, MEDA will apply a Lead Firm (LF) approach. LFs are private-sector enterprises that are “market makers.” This means these businesses are willing to invest in their own business growth, and in market opportunities that improve the capacity of their business partners – suppliers, service providers, buyers, and/or customers.
Building on the successful implementation of this model through the previous M-SAWA project, also funded by GAC, MEDA will provide matching grants to LFs in the horticulture, aquaculture, and poultry sectors. These sectors show strong potential for engaging with large numbers of women and youth and addressing gender-based constraints. Funds will be used to support initiatives benefiting both the LF and the SEs and SMEs within their supply chains and place a strong focus on engaging with women SMEs and SEs while integrating gender equality and promoting environmental sustainability and climate change adaptation.
At the SME level, MEDA will apply a GLI approach, directing investment capital to women/youth-led and inclusive businesses and supporting the development of the ecosystem by promoting dialog and learning around best practices in GLI.
MEDA is currently looking for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and business alliances/associations (BAs) operating in Kenya to partner with us to implement the LEGEND project. MEDA has a number of matching awards available to co-fund initiatives to address challenges facing SMEs and small entrepreneurs (SEs), with a focus on women and youth, operating in the horticulture, poultry and aquaculture sectors in Kenya in targeted counties in the Lake Zone (Busia, Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Migori) and Coast (Taita Taveta, Kilifi, Kwale).
For SMEs qualifying as Lead Firms (LFs), up to $130,000 CAD (approximately 100K USD) per SME (matched on a 1:1 basis) will be made available for initiatives which strengthen the capacity of the SME/LF while benefitting SEs or smallholder farmers (SHFs) within their supply/distribution chains. For BAs (including registered business associations and NGOs), up to $90,000 CAD (approximately 65K USD) per BA will also be available on a matching basis to fund initiatives which help form or strengthen shared business arrangements and facilities for SEs. Initiatives will include a strong integration of gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) and promote environmental sustainability and climate change adaptation (ECC).