International Women’s Day study: Kenyan women twice as likely to run a business as British women

8 March 2018

Kenyan women are more than twice as likely as their British counterparts to run a small business according to a new statistical analysis by the international development charity Traidcraft Exchange for International Women’s Day.

Timed to coincide with the charity’s Hidden Entrepreneur appeal in which the UK Government will match every donation made by the public, the research found that Kenyan women run 56% of that country’s small businesses but British women run just 20% of UK small firms.

“Kenyan women are hugely enterprising but often lack the opportunities to turn an innovative idea into a lasting success. Traidcraft Exchange’s Hidden Entrepreneur appeal will help them get the support they need to turn their potential into profit,” said Charlotte Timson, Director of Traidcraft Exchange.

Whilst Sub-Sahara Africa has a higher number of business-start ups than any other region of the world it also has the highest failure rate – nearly 1 in 10 women reported closing a business within the last year.

Poverty levels in Kenya remain high with more than 22 million people living below the national poverty line. Kenya is ranked 146th out of 188 countries in the United Nations’ Human Development Index which measures life expectancy, education and income. In contrast the UK is ranked 16th.

Women entrepreneurs in Kenya have been open about the challenges they face.

"I think men have it easier in this field but we women have to be creative to make this business work. We decided to only have women in the group because it gives us freedom to talk about other things without men listening." said Agnes Konge Gakii, a Kenyan farmer and entrepreneur working with Traidcraft Exchange.

Traidcraft Exchange’s Hidden Entrepreneur appeal is part of the Government’s UK Aid Match scheme under which every donation from the public is matched by a contribution from the Department for International Development.

“By matching donations to Traidcraft Exchange’s Hidden Entrepreneur appeal, UK aid will help thousands of men and women in Kenya, as well as Senegal and Bangladesh, to develop the business know-how needed to turn their farms into sustainable enterprises. This in turn will create better futures for their families and communities,” said International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt.

The Traidcraft Exchange study also highlighted the sheer number of enterprises in the East African state – 7.4 million in a population of 48 million people – pointing to their importance as the backbone of the Kenyan economy. In contrast the UK has nearly 20 million more people but nearly 2 million fewer small businesses. 

The Hidden Entrepreneur appeal will run until 11th April 2018.


For more information or to interview Charlotte Timson contact Tom Sharman: or 07757 753 318

Notes for editors:

  • Traidcraft Exchange is an international development charity which uses the power of trade to bring about lasting solutions to poverty. It runs development programmes in South Asia and Africa, works directly with businesses to improve their supply chains, and does advocacy and campaigning in the UK to promote justice and fairness in international trade. It works closely with specialist fair trade company Traidcraft plc. Traidcraft Exchange is a registered charity, no. 1048752. To donate to the Hidden Entrepreneur appeal go to: 
  • The UK Aid Match scheme is run by the Department for International Development, and brings charities, the British public and the UK government together to collectively change the lives of some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. For every £1 donated to a selected charity appeal, the government will also contribute £1 of UK aid to enable the charity to go further in changing and saving lives, up to a total of £5 million per appeal. Organisations must be UK-based, non-governmental and not-for-profit and be running an appeal set to raise at least £100,000, within a 3 month appeal period. Donations must be from people (not businesses) living in the UK and go towards an eligible international development project. For further information and guidance, please visit  
  • Traidcraft Exchange’s new analysis of UK and Kenyan statistics can be downloaded here: 
Tom Sharman