The government has spent more than Sh200 billion on affirmative action to support women, youth, and those with physical disabilities to secure public tenders since 2013, according to the Treasury.
Out of the funds, women’s businesses received Sh105 billion, the youth, Sh85 billion and persons with disabilities, Sh10 billion.
Director of Public Procurement official at the Treasury, Eric Korir, says the Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) has made it easier for women to do business with the State as it set aside a quota for them away from the general bids.
AGPO was launched in 2013 as an affirmative action that sets aside 30 per cent of government procurement for women’s businesses.
The same applies to counties and parastatals.
“AGPO has made a difference in the lives of women as it creates opportunity for them to compete among themselves and we encourage more of them to take advantage of the initiative,” he said.
Mr Korir said the government had upgraded the AGPO portal to ease access to public tenders and eliminate barriers that locked many women from contracts.
He cautioned traders against making multiple bids, saying those found would be disqualified from participating in government bids.
Mr Korir was speaking at a conference at Strathmore University whose theme was Enhancing Women’s Economic Empowerment through Gender-Responsive Procurement, organised by the Strathmore Business School and International Development Research Centre to disseminate findings of a study that investigated the interventions on women’s access to and participation in public procurement opportunities and promoting their economic empowerment in Kenya.
The research was conducted under the Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women (GrOW) programme. The Kenya Private Sector Alliance, a key partner in ensuring women’s access to government procurement opportunities, supported the conference.
Strathmore University Vice-Chancellor, Vincent Ogutu, asked the government and the private sector to raise to 50 per cent the percentage of tenders allocated to women to improve their socio-economic well-being.
Presenting the research findings, Prof Ruth Kiraka of SBS, highlighted several factors hampering women’s participation in AGPO, which included delayed payments to the suppliers by national and country governments.
Prof Kiraka, who led a team of three other researchers, also cited lack of training, complicated tender application processes, and the lack of awareness as some of the other factors that pulled back women from accessing public procurement. Corruption, a lack of financial resources, and poor communication also affected women.
From the research findings, Prof Kiraka and team recommended a raft of measures to open up more opportunities for women to benefit from government procurement, including timely payment of women suppliers, making the tender processes transparent and eliminating corruption. The women also needed financial support to carry out big public contracts. The research was conducted in 25 counties.
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