Empowering young women micro-entrepreneurs

Project Summary

Our goal is to enhance the capacity of childcare enterprises owned by young women for improved employment and livelihoods. We seek to achieve improved livelihoods of girls and women through access to education and work by strengthening the capacity of childcare services in Kenya, particularly in Nairobi and Kisumu Counties. This project is supported by the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) under the Partner Innovation Fund. We are also collaborating with Uthabiti Africa who provide us with learning platforms and background data.

Project Impact

Improved livelihood of girls and women through access of education and work by strengthening the capacity of childcare services in Kenya; evidenced by % change in demand for childcare services in young women-owned childcare SME's in service delivery

Project Outcomes

  • Enhanced capacity of young women owned childcare SMEs
  • Increase in young mothers and parents in general awareness of childcare services

Project Context

Kenya is facing a serious economic challenge with widening unemployment gaps. Even for well-trained graduated students in Kenya, with about 40% youth unemployment /underemployment rate, it is currently challenging to transition to the labor market. This was worsened by COVID-19 and the economic recession. According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), annually about 1 million new people enter the job market yet on average about 600,000 new jobs are created, with only 17% being in the formal sector, and as such not sufficient to address the challenges of 4.5 million un- or under-employed male and female youth.
In Kenya, young women register higher rates of unemployment and underemployment compared to male, with KNBS estimating that it stands at 10% higher for women. For example, women aged 15-25 have about 50% unemployment, while the corresponding male rate is about 30%. Young women face barriers to accessing both the formal and informal labor market due to several factors such as cultural and social norms, lower education levels, and issues around childcare and house chores.

What we Know

Based on the experience from past projects and interviews with experts in the sector, OAY established some gaps in the daycare ecosystem:

Evidence gaps and data inaccessibility

There are gaps in targeted evidence focusing on under-35-year-old women who have been trained on responsive caregiving and ECCD, the numbers who went ahead to open their own centers. There are also challenges in accessing credible data from past research

Quality issues

Most informal settlement services are home-based and quality could be better. These include quality of care, poor nutrition, poor infection prevention and control (IPC) measures, safety issues etc

Less focus on fewer than 4-year-olds

Most organizations’ programmes target children over 4 years. Other than the constitution, most relevant policies focus on early child education and less on under 4 year old childcare services

Less sustainable capacity building

Most organizations in the sector offer one-off training without focused mentorship and coaching

Poor ECDE and ECCD Career perceptions

Traditionally, childcare is done by older women. Younger people, especially those under 34-year-olds do not perceive it as a business or a professional career

One-sided training approach

Most organizations train young women on responsive caregiving as potential employees and not employers and thus not exposing them to child care entrepreneurship opportunities

Our Asks

OAY is delighted to welcome partnerships and collaboration with all the childcare organizations on board, as we work towards strengthening this ecosystem

Key interventions of Tunza Bora project

  • Baseline evidence on care economy: Generate evidence on the quality, supply and affordability of the daycare ecosystem and its contribution to the economy, gender equality and well-being of young mothers and children.

  • Training and supporting of SMEs: The capacity of 32 young women-owned SMEs in the care economy will be enhanced so as to operate efficiently according to jointly set standards(between who and who?).

  • Ujuzi Hub digital platform fully operationalized with actual linkages: The project will test innovative tech-based models to support demand creation for daycare services and linkages to opportunities for enhanced well-being of young mothers and their children.

  • Collaboration and learning: Engaging in spaces and platforms to disseminate data and new information and promote learning.