After 8 years of working with ROCL our partners in Vihiga Kenya we undertook a joint piece of research to analyse what differences need to be made to make poor women’s businesses more viable. Over 300 people and organisations, both statutory, voluntary and business were  involved as well as feedback from Swansea. The interviews were conducted in Swahili, Margoli and English with support workers for those with language and literacy issues.

The methods used were:-

  • Consultant administered questionnaires
  • Self administered questionnaires
  • Research review
  • Focus groups
  • Telephone interviews
  • Face to face interviews

People who ran successful businesses were key as well as the views  of the women volunteering in the two ROCL run libraries who supported each other in their enterprises


The results confirmed anecdotal evidence that there needed to be business support provided in the accessible ROVL libraries which would respond to the research findings of what poor women needed, summarised as follows:

  1. Capacity building training that was suited to individual need plus specific business training.
  2. To build on the strengths of existing groups a well as offering support to poor women who tended to have fewer family and wider networks.
  3. To provide access to credit for poor women at lower rates current rates on average are 18% plus hidden costs which  can often lead to women being worse off than when they took out loans.
  4. Links with government at all levels , other networks that support business enterprise.
  5. Improve the access to information, technology and business acumen, including marketing and commence.
  6. Finally to be “respected and treated as an equal”.

In Swansea we’ll be offering Mentoring Training aimed at the business community but also the SWANFRICA network and other groups. We hope to expand the number of volunteering  opportunities for people wishing  to get involved expanding their existing skills or improving their creativity and entrepreneurial side

If anybody wants a copy of the full study please contact W4R at The Environment Centre, Pier Street, Swansea. 


We now hope if our application for funding  is successful to begin to offer these services to a groups of women who have already been identified by the research who on average are supporting 6 dependent children, many orphaned by HIV/AIDS, and also supporting male relatives. W4R is backing the initiative by funding the two libraries and two librarians.