A new approach to women’s economic empowerment: FSD Kenya’s Marsabit Pilot

March 8th, 2022

In 2016 FSD Kenya branched outside our core financial inclusion remit to embark on a new pilot in Marsabit county where we sought to develop a more holistic approach to economic inclusion. The ambition was to deepen the value of finance in people’s lives, moving beyond financial access and use and investing in building capabilities and market linkages to enable finance to yield stronger impacts on livelihood resilience and growth. Our aim was to reach the extreme poor and especially women, who are not well served by the financial sector.

At the end of five year, FSD’s experiment in developing a market-led approach to economic inclusion with women at the centre was successful in enhancing the capabilities and economic resilience of participants. Testimony to the success of the project was the finding that project participants maintained and, in many cases, grew their incomes during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, while businesses in other parts of the country saw their revenues plummet.

Looking beyond the project to the potential for scale, FSD Kenya’s pilot in Marsabit yielded 3 core insights:

  1. Social security is an essential foundation for economic inclusion and growth
  2. Strong capabilities are key to translating access to basic needs into economic participation and empowerment
  3. Improved market linkages are important for enhancing women’s economic empowerment, but more investment is needed in developing growth-oriented value chains in which women can play a central role.

For an overview of FSD’s economic inclusion pilot, read the synthesis report below or watch the animation . Get in touch with us to share your ideas and experience on catalysing economic inclusion with women at the centre.

Dr. Jody Delichte, Daison Ngirazi,  Jess Robey, Traci Yoshiyama, Harriet Matsaert.



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