The African Development Bank (AfDB) in collaboration with the African Guarantee Fund and other donor countries, has approved $1.2 billion for on-lending to women-led enterprises in 32 countries across Africa since the launching of Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) two years ago.
This was revealed in Lagos, by the Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, AfDB, Dr. Beth Dunford, at the kick-off AFAWA Finance Series in Nigeria, to unlock financing for women entrepreneurs.
The AFAWA Finance Series (AFS) is a component of the AfDB’s initiative that brings together government representatives, policy makers and financial institution leaders to offer an introduction to AFAWA’s partnership services for the Nigerian market.
The AFAWA also included a risk-sharing mechanism and capacity development assistance that enabled financial institutions to increase their appetite to lend to women SMEs. The Lagos event followed previous AFAWA Finance Series that were held in Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana and Angola.
Dunford said: “Together, we are starting to reduce that massive gender financing gap. Earlier this year, Africa Development Bank reaching a milestone $1.2 billion in approved funding for loans. Via the AFAWA program and its partnerships with almost 100 financial institutions, that financing will reach more than 7,000 women entrepreneurs across 32 African countries.”
She added that in Nigeria, “there is a real opportunity for scale. MSMEs enterprises make up more than three-quarters of Nigeria’s workforce. With the right support, they have the potential to accelerate the country’s progress towards its economic development goals.”
Speaking during the opening ceremony, the Minister of Finance, Mr. Wale Edun, who was represented by the Acting Permanent Secretary/Director Economic research and Policy Management Department, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mrs. Grace Ogbonna, said thapp, “the topic of women’s empowerment is one that demands our attention, our commitment, and our collective efforts to ensure that women have equal opportunities so as to fully participate in our nation’s economic growth.
“Women constitute a substantial portion of our population and their full and equal participation in the economy is not just a matter of social justice but it is also one of economic parity.”
Speaking on the AFAWA, the Group Chief Executive Officer of African Guarantee Fund (AGF), Mr. Jules Ngankam, said “in Africa, 70 per cent of women are excluded financially, including in the areas of access to credit, land ownership, job opportunities, leadership positions and wealth creation. These imbalances have been one of the factors limiting Africa from reaching its full potential.”
Ngankam, also commended the government of Nigeria for taking steps in promoting women-led small and medium enterprises and noted that the AGF through the AFAWA initiative is eager to collaborate with the government and policy makers to further transform the environment to make it more conducive for women entrepreneurs.
In his remarks, the Director General for AfDB Nigeria Country Department, Mr. Lamin Barrow, said the bank’s AFAWA initiative seeks to increase women’s access to finance in the continent by closing the $42 billion financing gap for women-led small and medium enterprises.
He added: “Our goal is to mobilise $5 billion in financing for African women-led businesses by 2026. Since we launched AFAWA little over two years ago, the initiative has approved $1.2 billion for on-lending to women-led enterprises in 32 countries across Africa.”
This high-level conference would be followed by a two-day training that would enable banks to introspect on their product and service offerings through a gender smart lens and therefore better address the needs of women entrepreneurs.
– This Day