Climate Change Adaptation among Female-Led Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises in Semiarid Areas: A Case Study from Kenya

  • Joanes Atela
  • Kate Elizabeth GannonEmail author
  • Florence Crick
Living reference work entry


This chapter contributes to the literature on private sector adaptation by empirically exploring how female-led micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSMEs) in Kenya’s semiarid lands (SALs) experience and respond to climate risk. The chapter argues that strong sociocultural orientations around gender roles and resource use and access not only confine female-led MSMEs to sectors that experience higher exposure to climate risk – most notably agriculture – but also trigger more pronounced barriers to building resilience within their businesses, including reduced access to land, capital, markets, new technology, and educational opportunities. Faced by these barriers, female entrepreneurs may pursue unsustainable forms of coping, as part of which business activity is scaled back through reduced profits, loss of business, and the sale of valuable business assets. Such strategies may help enterprises to cope in the short term but may undermine longer-term MSME adaptive capacity. Social networks, such as women’s groups and table banking initiatives, appear to be crucial adaptation tools. Additionally, a strong dependency exists between household resilience and business resilience, implying that building resilience at the household level could support adaptive capacity among female-led MSMEs. Supporting the adaptive capacity of women in business should be a policy priority.


Adaptation Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) Women Semiarid lands Private sector Narok 



The research for this chapter was carried out, in collaboration with Kenya Markets Trust, as part of the PRISE project, under the Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA) program, with financial support from the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DfID) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada. Joanes Atela was also supported by funding from the Community-Based Adaptation project under the African Centre for Technology Studies. Kate Gannon and Florence Crick were also supported by funding from the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) through the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP) and the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joanes Atela
    • 1
  • Kate Elizabeth Gannon
    • 2
    Email author
  • Florence Crick
    • 2
  1. 1.African Centre for Technology StudiesNairobiKenya
  2. 2.Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the EnvironmentLondon School of Economics and Political ScienceLondonUK

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