Meet the Buyer: Promoting Gender Equality and Inclusivity in Supply Chains


Najma Jabri , Senior Manager,  Retail and Strategic Segments of Gulf African Bank, in an interview with Meral Guzel, Empower Women on 5 January 2018

How has GAB as a private entity approached gender equality?

GAB in conjunction UN Women partnered in a program aimed to enable women owned businesses in Kenya to benefit from the procurement opportunities presented by the government and the private sector.

GAB started the program by analyzing its internal procurement to understand status of buying from WOBs in order to ensure that it champions by being an example to emulate.

The program entails the following:

  1. Gulf African Bank as a private entity in Kenya has incorporated gender equality and inclusivity in its supply chain.
  2. Gulf African Bank as a champion of women economic empowerment has launched an unsecured LPO financing product for women owned businesses. This is in line with its main agenda to ensure access to finance for WOBs.
  3. Gulf African Bank in conjunction with UNWomen will have a capacity building program for WOBs to ensure that they are procurement ready.
  4. GAB did an analysis of its procurement on gender diversity and inclusion, what were the findings? 

We indeed analyzed. We decided as a bank if we are to advance gender equality and inclusivity in the supply chain then it had to start with us. This is the reason we decided to carry out an internal analysis of our procurement in order to establish the actual number of Women Owned Businesses (WOB’s).

The program had to be supported by actual and reliable data hence the data had to be collected back to the year the bank started which is 2008. We did an analysis of the entire list of vendors in our procurement from the bank’s inception and as at March 2017, the status of WOB’s was at 4.5%.This called for an affirmative action which the bank through the Managing Director committed to have 20% of its procurement allocated to WOB’s.


What are the challenges you’re facing in advancing gender diversity and inclusion in the supply chain? How are you addressing them?

The major hindrance for WOBs to tap into procurement opportunities is

Based on these facts, GAB is a champion of economic empowerment for women, launched the following to ensure that women are able to access financing once they receive an LPO from the National government or private sector without tangible security:

Most women are not procurement ready. This has been supported by fact that though the government of Kenya has allocated up to 30% of its procurements to women & youth, the number of women who are aware of how to tap into the opportunity is minimal. This is supported by the number of WOB’s registered under AGPO which stood at 65,000 as at November 2017 out of the over half a million Women SME’s in Kenya.

  1. Financing: whereas the main challenge to access financing is that WOB’s do not own tangible security. A major security mode in Kenya is title deed and yet, only 5-6% of land in Kenya is registered jointly with women and only 1% is registered by women alone (FIDA Report, 2009).
  2. Unsecured LPO financing for up to Ksh. 20 million for WOB’s with prior proven experience of at least 3 previous tenders.
  3. Unsecured LPO financing for up to Ksh. 3 million for WOB’s who have been issued with a tender for the first time.

What impact has the program had?

The program has had both direct and indirect impact;

  1. The capacity building has trained over 700 participants with over 1000 WOB’s informed about the opportunities available in procurements for them.
  2. For the period running from March 2017 to September 2017, the percentage of Women Owned Vendors in GAB’s procurement has moved from 4.5% to 12%.
  3. The portfolio of WOB’s financed under the program has grown to half a billion in the same period.
  4. GAB has been called to participate both locally and internationally in panels to explain how private sector can incorporate gender equality and inclusivity.
  5. More partners have signed up with GAB in enhancing gender equality and women economic empowerment i.e. LSK,KNCCI,WOBN’s & ACTIL.
  6. Through the program GAB has become a HeForShe champion.

How is GAB working with Women empower?

GAB is a signatory to the UN Women WEPs (Women Empowerment Principles). The Womenʼs Empowerment Principles - Equality Means Business is a partnership initiative of UN Women and the UN Global Compact that encourages engagement with the private sector, non-governmental organizations, the United Nations and Governments to advance and empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. While designed as a tool for the private sector to strengthen and create company policies and programmes to achieve gender equality, these seven Principles provide a platform for all stakeholders to move their commitments to gender equality closer to implementation. The Principles emphasize the business case for corporate action to promote gender equality and Womenʼs empowerment and are informed by reallife business practice and input gathered from across the globe.

GAB volunteered to champion Principle 5; Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women.

Photographer & Videographer Credit: Gulf African Bank
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