Women to benefit from AfDB $61,8m loan facility
Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
WOMEN entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe are set to benefit from a $61,8 million facility secured by the African Development Bank (AfDB) towards assisting African women in their respective income generating projects.
The AfDB revealed that the Governing Committee of the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) has approved the funding allocation, which the regional bank would use to advance its ‘affirmative finance action for women in Africa programme’.
“This substantial support from We-Fi will help us scale up our actions and achieve greater results for women entrepreneurs across the continent.
“Our ambition with Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) goes beyond regular assistance to women in business,” AfDB director for gender, women and civil society, Ms Vanessa Moungar, said in a statement.
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.
With the We-Fi funding, AFAWA intends to improve access to finance for 40 000 women-owned or led small and medium enterprises in 21 African nations, mainly in low-income and fragile countries, where women entrepreneurs face greater challenges in accessing finance, markets, knowledge, and mentoring programmes.
AfDB said the AFAWA programme would be implemented in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia and Zambia, among others.
It said 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.
It is also hoped that the We-Fi funding will reinforce initiatives of AfDB and partners, such as the United Nations Women and CARE International, in favour of women entrepreneurs in various sectors that are frequently overlooked by traditional financiers, donors and governments.