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  • Wellers Impact

Closing the gender gap in Kenya through impact investment

The UN has emphasised the importance of achieving gender equality and the vital role that SDG 5 plays in sustainable development and other SDGs (UN Women 2018).

The Church Mission Society (CMS) was founded as a charity in 1799 and works with Protestant and Anglican Christians around the world. CMS Africa is a daughter organisation of CMS and began its work in 2008 with its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

CMS Africa particularly strives towards creating more opportunities in the “Marketplace”, and one of the ways they achieve this is by offering courses, specifically for women, that teach how to manage finances and how to run a small business, which helps to create more opportunities for women to succeed in business.

Wellers Impact has helped to facilitate the ongoing work and sustainability of CMS Africa through the development of a grade A £9m commercial development for CMS Africa.

The commercial development for CMS Africa (Photo by Amy Lauren Photography)

There are a number of aspects to gender inequality that need to be addressed globally, including wage gaps, education, economic participation and political empowerment, to name a few (Mbithi 2013).

Many of these features are evidently linked, as education attained can determine the jobs available and the level of education attained can impact the range of wages for a job. Furthermore, the role of female political empowerment may act as a positive feedback loop on employment rates, wage gaps and therefore the economic participation of women in general.

Empowering more women to work in developing economies is particularly important for economic growth because female economic empowerment boosts both productivity and income equality, resulting in further positive development outcomes (International Monetary Fund 2018).

Accessible education is a vital component of closing the gender inequality gap. Currently, gender inequality hinders productivity and economic growth around the world with $160 trillion in wealth lost because of the differences in lifetime earnings between women and men (World Bank 2018).

It has been shown that increased educational attainment accounts for about 50% of the economic growth in OECD countries over the past 50 years. In addition, a single percentage point increase in female education raises the average level of GDP by 0.37 percentage points (Unicef 2011).

Unfortunately, most research and analytical data on women in business, features a majority of high income, western individuals, which emphasises the need to increase the number of business-owning women in the rest of the world.

In order to do this, educational programmes need to be inclusive and accessible for women. CMS Africa uses holistic, educational courses to help to empower women, providing the knowledge they need to run their own businesses and to be able to manage their finances.

According to CMS Africa, there are a number of reasons why specific courses may be required for women in business, and the answer lies in domestic, regional and commercial gender inequality.

Women in Kenya often have less access and rights to land and have less access to business financing services. By teaching business financing as an aspect of their course, CMS Africa are helping to mitigate inequality and empower women in business.

Additionally, women are over-represented in informal employment in developing countries, which does not necessarily provide a stable income, is typically poorly organised and does not benefit from regulated working conditions.

Despite the fact that nearly half (48%) of employed workers in Kenya were women in 2011, 77% of women were self-employed in informal work, including account workers who have no employees, unpaid family workers and unclassified forms of self-employment.

This is compared to 55% of employed men who were informally employed. When considering non-agricultural work only, 70% of men were paid employees, compared to 51% of women (Budlender 2011).

Wellers Impact has been able to facilitate the continued work of CMS Africa through investing in the development of a 16 story building in central Nairobi, of which CMS Africa owns over 20%.

They use the considerably enhanced value of this grade-A commercial development to generate a cash-flow to generate an income which allows them to run at a higher operational capacity and continue to run courses and programmes which tackle inequality and support small business owners, including women.

This type of investment is vital to allow for the sustainable growth and development of charities, as this sector provides direct services to the poorest in society, often making up for what the nation-state does not provide.

In addition to the work that they do towards gender equality and other inequalities, CMS Africa has created a community of individuals who are persevering in the fight for equal rights between genders.

Anne Marie Wilson, a CMS Partner, has campaigned against female genital mutilation (FGM) which is a significant issue across Africa. FGM was traditionally practised in 29 African countries, however, it has now been criminalised in 23 of these countries.

FGM is seen as an extreme infringement of women’s rights and in 2014 in Kenya, 21% of women aged between 15 and 49 were victims of FGM (UNFPA 2014). FGM was also found to be more common in rural areas than urban areas but was and is still observed as taking place across Kenya.

The aspect of community is one that is important to CMS Africa, as their Women’s Ministry course has created a forum for women where girls can encourage each other to learn.

Community is also a fundamental aspect of Wellers Impact’s drive towards finding ways to utilise innovative investment models to improve sustainability. deliver fair investment outcomes for investors and to support the SDGs themselves.

If you would like to learn more about Wellers Impact’s investments please contact us.


Wellers Impact is a UK-based, FCA-Regulated Impact Investment Manager which works to unlock community-focused impact through SDG-focused impact investing. Through innovative investment models that utilise fair economics, Wellers Impact originates investment opportunities across three core business activities; real estate developments in partnership with local land-owning not-for-profits in East Africa, financial support for agriculture firms and supply chains globally through sustainable development finance and direct investment into private water, sanitation and plastics recycling firms globally. Investment involves risk. Suitable for Sophisticated, Professional and High Net Worth Investors only.

Budlender 2011. WIEGO Statistical Brief 5. [online] WEIGO. Available at: <

Internationnal Monetary Fund, 2018. Pursuing Women's Economic Empowerment. Policy Papers. [online] International Monetary Fund. Available at: <>.

Mbithi, LM. 2013. Barriers Faced By Women-Owned Businesses: Perspectives of Women from East African Community. Pathways to African Feminism and Development: Same Story Different Narratives (Volume 1 Issue I)

The World Bank, 2018. Globally, Countries Lose $160 Trillion In Wealth Due To Earnings Gaps Between Women And Men. [online] Available at: <>.

Unicef, 2020. UNICEF Says Education For Women And Girls A Lifeline To Development. [online] Available at: <>.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). 2020. FGM Kenya | UNFPA - United Nations Population Fund. [online] Available at: <>.


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