Photograph — Face2Face Africa

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has secured $61.8 million to support the growth of female entrepreneurs in Africa. The funding is in line with AfDB’s Affirmative Finance for Women in Africa (AFAWA) program and will be provided by the governing committee of the Women Entrepreneurs Finance initiative (We-Fi).

This move by We-Fi will go a long way in proffering financial support to more than 35,000 women-owned Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in 21 African countries including Nigeria.

Speaking on the matter, AfDB’s Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society, Vanessa Moungar, emphasized the economic impact of this development.

“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”, Moungar said.

According to the European Investment bank, access to finance remains a genuine challenge to micro and small and medium-sized enterprises across the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) region. Another study by the AfDB also reports that the financing gap for women in sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to be $20 billion.

Thus, this initiative by AfDB will not only provide financial benefits to women and their individual business, but it will also spur their (women’s) contribution to the social and economic development of the society.

By contributing to bridging the finance gap and economic empowerment of women, AFAWA joins a list of other organizations such as the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) that has supported African women entrepreneurs with a $500 million fund.

Another initiative launched in recent memory is the Women’s Global Development and prosperity(W-GDP). This initiative is driving the empowerment of women for societal impact. It was launched by President Trump in February and looks to reach 50 million women globally.

Promoting opportunities for women in the economy is a long term development policy that Africa needs to address. The role of women fosters economic growth, poverty reduction and the drive for gender equality cannot be overemphasized. As stated by McKinsey, the female economy is the world’s largest emerging market with the potential to add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025.

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