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Global partners announce $61.8M allocation to boost AfDB initiative for women entrepreneurs

Africa Center CEO, Uzodinma Iweala discussing jobs for Africa’s youth at the Africa Investment Forum with Africa Development Bank President Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, Director for Gender Women and Civil Society AfDB, Vanessa Moungar, and Ashish Thakar (CEO of Mara Group). (AGENCY PHOTO)

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – The Governing Committee of the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) on Monday, May 13 approved a funding allocation of $61.8 million for the African Development Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa program.

We-Fi is a partnership among 14 donor governments, eight multilateral development banks, and other public and private sector stakeholders, established in October 2017 and hosted by the World Bank Group.

“This substantial support from the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, We-Fi, will help us scale up our actions and achieve greater results for women entrepreneurs across the continent. Our ambition with AFAWA goes beyond regular assistance to women in business,” Vanessa Moungar, the Bank’s Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society said about the announcement.

With the We-Fi funding, AFAWA intends to improve access to finance for 40,000 women-owned/led small and medium enterprises in 21 African countries, mainly in low-income and fragile countries, where women entrepreneurs face greater challenges in accessing finance, markets, knowledge, and mentoring programs. Specifically, the program’s activities will be implemented in Botswana, Burundi, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The activities funded by We-Fi will be aligned with AFAWA’s three-pronged approach to holistically addressing the $42 billion financing gap between women and male entrepreneurs.

The first AFAWA pillar aims to increase access to finance for women through innovative and tailored financial instruments, including guarantee mechanisms to back up women entrepreneurs.

In collaboration with strategic partners, the second pillar focuses on providing capacity-building services to women entrepreneurs, including access to mentoring and entrepreneurship training courses. AFAWA also helps financial institutions address the specific needs of women-owned/led businesses through tailored financial and non-financial products.

The third pillar concentrates on improving the business environment for women by engaging in policy dialogue with central banks and other relevant authorities and stakeholders.

Lastly, the We-Fi funding will reinforce initiatives of the Bank and partners, such as UN Women and CARE International, in favour of women entrepreneurs in various sectors that are frequently overlooked by traditional financiers, donors and governments. These special initiatives include Fashionomics Africa and the African women tech entrepreneurs program.

About the African Development Bank Group

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 37 African countries with an external office in Japan, the AfDB contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states.

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