The African Development Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) initiative has achieved a significant milestone with the approval of $1 billion in funding for African female entrepreneurs. The initiative, which was launched in 2015 at the first Dakar Africa Food Summit, has faced challenges with the majority of Africa’s agricultural sector small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) being run by women yet they struggle to access finance. In the last two years, the bank has increased its investment in women-owned SMEs by seven times, providing financing to over 4,100 women business owners.
AFAWA is tackling the financial barriers faced by African women entrepreneurs by providing access to training, digital platforms and financial support. The program is working on various initiatives such as the “Financing Climate Resilient Agricultural Practices in Ghana” project, which is aimed at increasing the agriculture productivity of 400 women-led farmer-based associations and women-owned SMEs. The bank has also launched the Women Entrepreneurship Enablers program, which provides up to $250,000 for women’s business associations and other organizations to increase the readiness of women SMEs to access credit and scale their businesses.
The bank has established a Guarantee Mechanism to increase the lending ability of financial institutions to women business owners and aims to unlock $5 billion in lending for women by 2026. The bank will continue to work with partners to enhance women’s access to financing and with policymakers to ensure the right reforms are in place to accelerate women-led SMEs financial access.
Dr. Beth Dunford, the bank’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human, and Social Development, said she is proud of AFAWA’s financing achievement and reminds the bank that when investing in Africa’s food systems, they must also invest in Africa’s women agripreneurs.
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