AfDB's women entrepreneurship programme receives $61.8 million funding
Female entrepreneurs in Africa face a funding gap of $42 billion, says the AfDB.
The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) has approved a funding allocation of $61.8 million for the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) programme. AFAWA is a pan-African initiative that is expected to alleviate the multiple challenges that African women entrepreneurs face, including lack of access to finance.
Established in 2017 and supported by the governments of Australia, Canada, United States China, and other G-20 countries, We-Fi supports women entrepreneurs with access to finance, markets, technology, mentoring, and other services.
“We-Fi is the first of its kind – a large-scale, multi-stakeholder partnership designed to address obstacles facing women entrepreneurs through comprehensive, sustainable solutions,” said Geoffrey Okamoto, Chair of the We-Fi Governing Committee and Acting Assistant Secretary for International Finance and Development at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. “The idea is not to fund individual women entrepreneurs, but to fund projects that disrupt the systemic causes of financial obstacles to women’s entrepreneurship.”
The funding support for AFAWA is part of the second round of funding of $129 million for programmes to boost women’s businesses that are to be implemented by four multilateral development banks (MDBs). The funding is expected to mobilize $990 million of additional funds from other public and private sources. Other MDBs that got funding support were the Asian Development Bank ($20.2 million); the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development ($22.9 million); and the Inter-American Development Bank ($24.28 million).
According to the AfDB, female entrepreneurs in Africa face a funding gap of an estimated $42 billion. The We-Fi funding support will enable AFAWA to improve access to finance for 40,000 women-owned or led small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in 21 African countries.
Some of the beneficiary countries are 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 Zambia.
The AfDB noted that the We-Fi funding will reinforce its initiatives and those of its 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, donor and governments.
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