About $5 billion in funding will be available to African women-led businesses as part of plans by the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA), a pan-African initiative of the African Development Bank by 2026. The plans were revealed by Lamin Barrow, the Director General for African Development Bank Nigeria Country Department, at the fifth AFAWA Finance Series in Lagos. The plan will furnish business women with funds.
The Director General further revealed that the Bank’s AFAWA program is looking at increasing women’s accessibility to funds in Africa through bridging the 42 billion dollar funding void for small and medium enterprise business women. He further said “Our goal is to mobilize $5 billion in financing for African women-led businesses by 2026. Since we launched AFAWA a 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 conference will be followed by a 2-day training that will enable banks to introspect on their product and service offerings through a gender smart lens and therefore better address the needs of women entrepreneurs.” Mr. Lamin Barrow explained that the AFAWA Finance Series happens to be a section of the African Development Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) program which converges government representatives, policymakers, and financial institution leaders to offer an introduction to AFAWA’s partnership services for the Nigerian market.
On the program, Grace Ogbonna, the Acting Permanent Secretary/Director Economic Research and Policy Management Department, Federal Ministry of Finance who was representing the Honourable Minister of Finance, Wale Edun, stated during the opening highlights, “The topic of women’s empowerment demands our attention, our commitment, and our collective efforts to ensure that women have equal opportunities 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.”
“The AFAWA Finance Series is also a showcase for the AFAWA Guarantee for Growth program, which offers a risk-sharing mechanism coupled with capacity development assistance to enable financial institutions to increase their appetite to lend to women SMEs. Research shows women are better at repaying loans than men, and typically reinvest up to 90% of their income in the education, health and nutrition of their families and communities”.
Mr. Jules Ngankam, African Guarantee Fund’s Group Chief Executive Officer on his own part mentioned that “In Africa, 70% 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.”
While praising the Nigerian government for initiating moves to advertise small and medium enterprise businesswomen, he reiterated AGF’s determination to partner with the government and policymakers through the AFAWA program to further advance the industry in establishing a more effective environment for businesswomen.
The Lagos event, follows the AFAWA Finance Series in Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, and Angola. Dr Beth Dunford, vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development concluded by saying “In Nigeria, there is a real opportunity for scale. Micro, small, and medium-sized 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.”