AfDB Celebrates Female Entrepreneurs On International Women’s Day

FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of the African Development Bank (AfDB) are pictured in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, September 16, 2016. Picture taken September 16, 2016. REUTERS/Luc Gnago/File Photo - RC196B9DEF90

In celebration of International Women’s Day, and to mark the rollout of the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) Guarantee for Growth program, the African Development Bank and the African Guarantee Fund are putting the spotlight on women supported by the AFAWA Guarantee for Growth program – an innovation aiming to unlock up to $3 billion in loans to women-led small and medium-size enterprises (WSMEs).

These African women running their own businesses are taking part in an online panel event, co-organized by AFAWA and the African Guarantee Fund, on Monday 8 March. Under the theme, “Women entrepreneurs: key drivers of economic growth,” the goal of the virtual session is to spotlight women entrepreneurs and their role in the reconstruction of Africa’s economies in the coronavirus era. This effort is at the core of the AFAWA Guarantee for Growth program which works with financial institutions to address the financial and non-financial needs of African women entrepreneurs, by offering access to finance, providing technical assistance and create an enabling environment to promote policy changes and regulatory reforms.

“The African Development Bank has mobilized its resources, and the support of its global partners, in what is to date, our most ambitious effort ever to change the landscape on access to finance for African women entrepreneurs,” said Vanessa Moungar, the Bank’s Director for Women, Gender and Civil Society.

The participants Catherine Mumbua Wanjoya, the founder of a company manufacturing biodegradable and affordable sanitary towels, and waste incinerators; Terry Mungai, the CEO of a beauty and hair care franchise institution; Mbuaya Kalenga Mdhy, who heads a semi-industrial sewing company; and hotelier Bijou Esther Monga Ilunga Kazadi are among the women already benefiting from initiatives with the first financial institutions having signed onto the AFAWA Guarantee for Growth program.

Supported by the Group of Seven (G7) countries as well as the Netherlands and Sweden, the AFAWA Guarantee for Growth program, which targets financial institutions to increase their appetite to lend to women by de-risking the segment is implemented in collaboration with the African Guarantee Fund, which works to facilitate access to finance for SMEs in Africa.

“We have realized when talking to financial institutions that they don’t see AFAWA as a favor that we are doing to women. It is a huge business opportunity to tap into a customer segment that has not been explored before,” said Jules Ngankam, CEO of the African Guarantee Fund.

Esther Dassanou, Manager of AFAWA said financial institutions in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda are signing on to the program, and that the program could be a game changer across the continent.

“The AFAWA Guarantee for Growth program is different and innovative from what is on the market, in the sense that it tackles all the major challenges that women entrepreneurs face in accessing financing and growing their business at the same time,” Dassanou added.

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