This policy brief draws on research undertaken in Laikipia County in central Kenya under the Women Entrepreneurs in Climate Change Adaptation (WECCA) project. The authors use this case study to underscore the challenges faced by female entrepreneurs in Africa in the face of climate change. They make policy recommendations that may support these entrepreneurs to build strong, climate-resilient businesses across Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.

Key messages

  • Female-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make important contributions to economic growth and community resilience in Sub-Saharan Africa. 
  • Extreme weather conditions such as high temperatures and floods particularly affect female entrepreneurs due to socioeconomic, political and cultural vulnerabilities.
  • Research in Laikipia, Kenya has revealed challenges facing female-led SMEs include limited finance, infrastructure and social services; businesses being small in size and vulnerable to risk; gendered responsibilities taking time away from businesses; and dependency on male cooperation for business operations.
  • Female entrepreneurs in Laikipia are coping with climate change by diversifying their businesses and forming groups to tackle its impacts collectively.
  • The adaptive capacity of female entrepreneurs can be enhanced through a supportive business-enabling environment, promoted by local and national government and other stakeholders such as financial institutions and non-governmental organisations.
  • This can be achieved by strengthening women’s access to gender-sensitive business and adaptation training, overcoming gendered barriers to business finance and financial inclusion, and strengthening market infrastructure and business networks for women.
  • Addressing these gaps for women within the business environment will enable female-led enterprises in Kenya and beyond to deliver on their potential to contribute to broader resilience-building within households and communities in various geographical settings.
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