Photograph — Face2Face Africa

The Nigerian government, in collaboration with the Bank of Industry (BoI) and the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), have mutually agreed to mobilize $3 billion to support women-run businesses. The agreement comes under the AfDB’s initiative, the Affirmative Finance Action for Women (AFAWA).

AFAWA launched at the 2016 Bank’s Annual Meetings, aims to provide available, accessible and affordable financial services to women in business through selected financial institutions.

This initiative will enable the financial institutions to collaborate in addressing the financing gap for women enterprises by supporting AFAWA activities. According to the report, Both BoI and AfDB share a similar focus on promoting industrialization and economic growth by providing financial and funding support to entrepreneurs.

The expression which was signed on Monday, “will enable the two development financial institutions to collaborate in addressing the financing gap for women enterprises by supporting AFAWA activities of bridging the $46billion women financing gap, engaging in policy dialogue to create enabling environment for women empowered businesses and developing appropriate frameworks for the smooth implementation of the program.”

The bank further explained that one of the objectives of the AFAWA program is to bridge the gap to finance. This focuses on the provision of advisory services to financial institutions to ensure the successful implementation of dedicated women activities including strengthening the capacity of women entrepreneurs through training to enhance business productivity and growth.

Over the past decade, the number of women entrepreneurs in Africa has grown substantially. AfDB’s Africa Gender Equality Index shows that female entrepreneurship on the continent is the highest in the world and they make a sizeable contribution to Africa’s economy.

In Togo, the training aimed at fostering proactive behaviors among entrepreneurs rather than teaching them basic commercial skills has had a significant impact. The idea is to teach small entrepreneurs to show initiative, be proactive, and demonstrate perseverance. This training is yielding impressive results as the female trainees have seen a 40 percent average increase in their profits.

However, some of the benefits also include the provision of an enabling environment through engagement with the African government and other key stakeholders to support legal, policy and regulatory reforms and strike down the structural barriers impeding women empowered businesses. 

Expanding the opportunities for female entrepreneurs through policies that foster gender equality would have a tremendous impact on Africa’s growth.

By Ahmed Iyanda

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