Margaret Wawira Ndwiga, Dr. Florence Ondieki-Mwaura, Dr. Winifred Karugu
Researchers have argued that if programmes are appropriately designed, microfinance could make an important contribution to women’s empowerment. Empowerment is about changing power relations to favour those who previously had limited power over their own lives. Participation of women in microfinance programmes provides them with resources that enhance their individual ability to make choices and consequently gain control over their own lives. An example of programmes providing microfinance services targeting women clients is the Women Enterprise Fund (WEF), an initiative of the government of Kenya. This paper employs a descriptive approach to examine effect of duration of participation in the WEF micro finance programme on women empowerment in Nairobi County. The paper is based on the findings of a wider study on the impact of WEF Microfinance intervention programme on women empowerment, carried out between October 2015 and January 2016 in Nairobi County. A sample of 385 women was drawn randomly from 167 active self help groups that were beneficiaries of microcredit and other financial services from WEF. Data was collected using a structured questionnaire, as well as through focus group discussions. According to the findings, participating in the WEF programme had a positive influence on various dimensions of empowerment, but the duration of women’s participation (the number of years women had received credit in form of loans, and other services from WEF) had very limited impact on empowerment outcomes.