Flutterwave, Africa’s leading Payment Technology Company has shown great commitment to reducing the huge financing gap facing African women. Among other actions taken by the brand is the introduction of its “International Women’s Day Grant” scheme, an enterprise aimed at funding Women-led businesses in Africa. The initiative, just in its second year, is already yielding fruits and showing promising growth projections for African women and the African economy at large.
The existent gender disparity in access to financial instruments for women is of global concern. Several credible organizations have released worrying findings painting the true picture of the huge global gender financing gap. The World Bank Group’s latest Global Findex report, reveals that more than one billion women still do not use or have access to financial systems. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), has also estimated that worldwide, a $300 billion gap in financing exists for formal, women-owned small businesses, and more than 70 percent of women-owned small and medium enterprises have inadequate or no access to financial services.
The reality of the gender financing gap becomes even more mind boggling when the lens is placed on Africa. African women bear a significant brunt of the financing gap faced by women globally, a report by the African Development Bank has shown that African women face a $42 billion financing gap, and this is tied to a lack of access to loans due to lack of collaterals, information gap, mentorship void, and poor networks to grow their businesses.These rather disappointing statistics are a cause for concern, especially since women play a pivotal role in driving micro, small and medium businesses across Africa.
With an operating presence in over 50 African countries, Flutterwave has taken up the mantle to bridge the expanding gender financing gap in Africa. This is in line with the company’s vision of driving financial growth across the continent.
Putting women in focus, Flutterwave introduced the International Women’s Day (IWD) grant to empower women-led businesses across Africa. The initiative was kicked off on the 8th of March 2020 to commemorate the International Women’s Day celebration and give more meaning to the dayby further empowering women through a seed fund to expand their businesses.
Now in its second year, the initiative has achieved considerable success by playing a crucial role in keeping some African businesses afloat during the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In its first year, six beneficiaries of the grant were eventually selected from a pool of applications that cut across different African Countries. These beneficiaries were from Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa, and Kenya and received grants to the tune of $1000 each.
This year’s call for the 2021 grant application was made earlier in the year and due to the increased interest generated across Africa, Flutterwave decided to take the coverage up a notch by giving out grants to female entrepreneurs across seven African countries (Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Rwanda, and Zambia). Applications by interested businesses have been received by the brand and are currently undergoing a thorough vetting process after which beneficiaries will be announced.
IMPACTING AFRICAN BUSINESSES
Assessing the impact of the Flutterwave International Women’s Day grant since its inception has revealed exciting testimonials from businesses as well as promising projections for further growth across Africa. The announcement of the 2021 winners, would mean the grant has provided direct financial support to 13 African businesses across 3 African regions by helping them drive financial growth, scale up their businesses, increase human capital and set households on a journey to financial prosperity.
An Interview with past winners of the grant revealed that the grant has been instrumental in sustaining their businesses and helping them survive the challenges of 2020. Speaking on the impact of the grant, Mercy Jayeola, the CEO of Craftity Limited, a Nigerian based company and past winner of the grant says:
“I once told a friend that the grant was a miracle and a lifesaver! Apart from helping my business stay afloat, it also helped me regain my sanity. Before the pandemic, there were lots of prospects for us. Fixtures of programs here and there. We never saw the pandemic coming, it was a drastic blow! I had to struggle to keep calm and stay collected.”
For Ropah Musvaire, CEO & Founder of Kweza, a South African business owner and a beneficiary of the Flutterwave IWD grant in 2020, she sheds more light on the impact of the grant on her business, according to her: “with more working capital we were able to service more customers and test out providing short-term working capital to customers which we hope to develop as a product,” she said.
Driving financial growth in Africa remains a key vision for Flutterwave. The company has committed itself to this initiative to bridge the gender gap in finance and empowermore women-led businesses across Africa. The International Women’s Day Grant is believed to be just one of the many strategies the brand has devised to ensure financial inclusion across the gender spectrum.