Infrastructure (Construction)

Type of Investment


Project Stage


Length of Investment


Investment Overview

Buildher works to advance gender inclusivity in construction through its innovative work placement and direct support to firms to create gender inclusive workplaces. GIF’s pilot investment to Buildher aimed to recruit more women, improve cost effectiveness and strengthen partnerships for scaling strategies.


The Development Challenge

In Sub-Saharan Africa, gender disparities persist in employment quality, with women facing lower earnings and limited opportunities for advancement. Women often earn less, work in less productive roles, and are overrepresented in unpaid family labour and vulnerable work. In construction, a traditionally male dominated industry, women constitute only 9.5% of the global construction workforce. According to the Kenya Economic Survey, the construction sector was the sixth largest for waged employment in 2019, contributing 7.5% of all waged jobs in the economy and creating 25,000 waged jobs in the preceding five years. However, only 17% of these waged employees were female, indicating systemic barriers to women's entry into a sector that offers competitive wages and skill premiums.


The Innovation

Buildher, a Nairobi based social enterprise, seeks to advance gender inclusivity in the construction sector in Kenya and to improve the livelihoods of low income women. Its innovative work placement programme recruits women from informal settlements and takes them through four to six months workshop based educational training, comprising technical skills and life skills components to get them employment ready. This is followed by an eight month placement, during which time women transition from semi-skilled to skilled workers and ultimately secure jobs in the construction industry. Buildher also supports partner firms in adapting their workplaces through physical adjustments, policy changes, and staff training, fostering inclusivity and safety for women. It collaborates with construction companies and the government to challenge gender norms and advocate for sector wide reforms, aiming to make construction a viable and rewarding career option for women.


Our Investment

GIF provided a pilot grant of $230,000 in 2019, which was increased to $270,000 in 2021. Our investment was intended to help refine and de-risk Balloon Venture’s model through growing its portfolio of loans to new businesses in Kenya and Uganda while driving efficiencies to improve cost effectiveness. Our aim was for this proof of concept to position Balloon Venture for further investment. Our investment was also intended to enable Balloon Ventures to create sector specific best practice tools, policies, approaches, case studies and insights, which Balloon Ventures and other organisations can use to support informal Small Growing Businesses (SGBs).


Progress to date

Since GIF's investment in September 2021, Buildher has expanded its training capacity, enrolling over 500 women across six cohorts and notably reducing attrition rates. 80% of the trainees secure employment in the construction sector, while the remaining find jobs in other fields, with average monthly earnings of USD $227. The program's unit cost per trainee completing the program has decreased from USD $2,982 to USD $2,305 due to growth and program enhancements. To enhance partnership, Buildher has collaborated with new partner firms to establish genderinclusive workplaces and enhance safety measures for female employees. Further they held a conference to promote women in the construction industry that attracted over 300 BuildHer trained women, employers and partners to champion inclusivity in the sector. They have also launched a partnership with Gulf Cap Real Estate, the developer for the government’s upcoming affordable housing project in Starehe, Nairobi, which provides opportunities for Buildher.


Buildher in numbers


GIF grant


Women enrolled in the 4 months training


Women who obtained jobs in construction sector


Part of the GIF Gender Equality Fund

Buildher trains women from Nairobi’s informal settlements through a 12-month programme to help them secure skilled employment in the traditionally male-dominated construction sector; and works with partner firms in the construction sector to make their workplaces more gender inclusive, including through changing workplace facilities and enacting sexual harassment policies.

The social enterprise used a $230,000 pilot grant to expand the current programme by onboarding new partner
firms and training more women. GIF investment also aimed to enabled Buildher to strengthen its monitoring and evaluation function to better assess the impacts for women, including the agency gains they experience from succeeding in an industry from which they have typically been excluded.