Women Lawyers, Bankers, Financial Experts, Entrepreneurs, Managers and Trainers got together in 1981. Their vision was to set up a financial Institution devoted to addressing solely financial needs of women. In fact, their specific objectives was to set up a woman serving, woman led bank.
These women of great resolve contributed Kshs. 2,000 (US$25) for those who had better income and called themselves “Founder Members”. Those who had moderate incomes contributed Kshs. 500 (US$6.25) and were labeled “Associate Members”. There was yet another category of ordinary members who paid Kshs. 250 (US$3.125). Instead of a bank , they established a “Trust” because of the challenges posed by the banking regulations and requirements.
KWFT has come a long way to be what it is today: a Kenyan success story. The Institution – Kenya Women Finance Trust Limited is unique in Kenya. It is the largest and only micro-finance Institution exclusively for women. It is built on the belief that women can transform their lives, those of their families and the way the world works through entrepreneurship. Kenya Women Finance Trust has grown from small beginnings in 1981 into an Institution with 400,000 members in 2010 from seven of Kenyas eight provinces.
The Institution had achieved overall sustainability by March 2002. Since then, the Institution has continued to consolidate its break-even status and to post profits that are ploughed back into the Programme to grow the portfolio.
In its early days, KWFT depended substantially on donor grants to finance both lending activities and administrative expenses. Since 1994,KWFT began borrowing from other NGOs and the financial sector for incremental capital. By march 2003 60% of the outstanding portfolio was financed by funds borrowed from commercial sources locally and internationally. The Ford Foundation as a social investor was the first in this category to support scaling up strategies for KWFT through a US$3 Million loan under the Programme Related Investment Facility.
From the year 1996, all Programme Administration costs were covered by Internally generated income.
KWFT Staff has also grown with the Programme and the Institution from 6 in 1992 to 310 by December 2005.