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President’s Advisor on Women’s Rights, Hon. Harriette Chiggai Launches Women’s Economic Empowerment and Investment Curriculum at MMUST

MMUST’s Prof. Benedict Alala (left), Elizabeth Wasunna-Ochwa (ABSA Bank), the President’s Advisor on Women’s Rights, Hon. Harriette Chiggai (Center), H.E. Prof. Janet Kassily Barasa and Mr. Joshua Adegele (AGF) at the launch.

The President’s Advisor on Women’s Rights, Hon. Harriette Chiggai  on 29 May 2024, launched the Women’s Economic empowerment and Investment Curriculum at MMUST. The Curriculum dubbed ‘’, seeks to address gender-based disparities to advance entrepreneurship among women in the region. The event was also attended by the Kakamega First Lady- H.E Prof. Janet Kassilly Barasa The event was organized by Absa Bank Kenya in partnership with The Executive Office of the President, through the Office of the Women’s Rights Advisor and Africa Guarantee Fund (AGF).  


The President’s Advisor on Women’s Rights, Hon. Harriette Chiggai at MMUST.

Addressing the business community at the launch, Hon. Chiggai, highlighted the crucial role women play in the economic growth and development of Kenya. She praised women’s active participation in Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), which aligns with the Government’s agenda on economic transformation.

“Women are the majority in MSMEs, which contribute 50% of job creation and 30% of our GDP. This demonstrates that women-led businesses in Kenya hold significant investment potential. This launch is a game changer because women’s economic empowerment is essential for increasing the GDP of our country,” remarked Hon. Chiggai. She informed the participants that the government has developed several financial programs to support women, in accessing affordable credit and enhancing their participation in all economic, social, and political decision-making processes.


A section of participants during the launch.

Emphasizing MMUST’s commitment to the ideals of inclusivity, equality and empowerment in education, Prof. Alala noted that MMUST is proud to be the first institution of higher learning to host this transformative curriculum.  He assured participants that MMUST is committed to providing the necessary resources, expertise, and a conducive learning environment to ensure the success of the program.

“Women, who constitute nearly half of the country’s population, play a critical role in the socio-economic development of our nation. Yet, they often face systemic barriers that limit their potential and hinder their progress in socio-economic activities. By addressing these barriers through targeted education and training, we can unlock the immense potential that women possess,” read the speech.

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MMUST’s Director of AIDS Control, Gender, and Disability Mainstreaming, Prof. Benedict Alala giving his remarks.

Speaking at the event, H.E. Prof. Kasilly Barasa pointed out the need for empowering women to actively participate in economic development. She called upon all stakeholders to contribute towards fostering opportunities for women to learn and thrive. Similarly, ABSA Bank Business Banking Director, Ms. Elizabeth Wasunna-Ochwa highlighted that closing the gender gap through economic empowerment is essential for achieving our national Sustainable Development Goals.

“When more women are empowered to create wealth, economies grow. This programme aligns perfectly with our corporate mission to empower Africa’s tomorrow together, one story at a time. We are committed to empowering over one million women entrepreneurs by 2025 by providing them with access to market information, markets for their products and services, coaching and mentorship, as well as business networks. ABSA will also provide the capital needed to scale up their businesses. 10 billion shillings has been earmarked for this,” she noted.


ABSA Bank Business Banking Director, Ms. Elizabeth Wasunna-Ochwa (left), Hon. Harriette Chiggai (centre)and H.E. Prof. Janet Kassily Barasa.

Ms. Zainab Mohamed who was representing the President, Kenya Chamber of Commerce stated that women empowerment is the catalyst for change and that the program launched at MMUST will build a foundation for sustainable growth of not only the women but the entire economy of the country.

It is worth noting that the program targets to empower at least 30,000 women-led MSMEs across Kakamega, Bungoma, and Vihiga counties. Central to this initiative is the ‘Start and Improve our Business (SIYB) module’, one of the largest global business management training programs developed by the International Labour Organization (ILO). This comprehensive curriculum includes training on business registration, taxation, marketing, savings and investment, budgeting and financial planning, and bookkeeping. Additionally, the program emphasizes the digitization of businesses, enhancing market linkages beyond county borders, and providing cross-border training.


Kenya Chamber of Commerce team at the event. MMUST’s Deputy Director Institute of Indigenous Knowledge, Cultural Studies, and Climate Change, and Gender Mainstreaming Committee Chairperson - Dr. Lucy Mandillah (In red t-shirt).

Notable personalities from MMUST who were present at the event included the Deputy Director Institute of Indigenous Knowledge, Cultural Studies, and Climate Change, Dr. Lucy Mandillah; Director Corporate Communications and Marketing, Dr. Lydia Anyonje; and Senior Administrative Assistant, Ms. Eunice Rapando.

Indeed, ‘Empower Her County Program’ will equip women entrepreneurs with the tools and resources needed to upskill their businesses, promote resilience and thrive in today’s competitive business world. MMUST’s participation in this noble endeavour, is an immense contribution towards generation of knowledge and nurturing of productive partnerships for the benefit of communities.

Story by Dr. Lydia Anyonje and Caren Nekesa 

Photos by Joshua Chiro

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