In a groundbreaking announcement made at the 2023 AFI Global Policy Forum in Manila, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) have renewed their commitment to bolstering the fortunes of women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Africa.
Under the banner of the Bank’s Gender Equality Trust Fund, a substantial grant of over $4 million is set to empower women entrepreneurs across the continent over the next four years.
“Today, we embark on a transformative journey to empower Africa’s women entrepreneurs,” declared Malado Kaba, Director for Gender, Women, and Civil Society at the African Development Bank.
“This renewed partnership with AFI marks a new chapter, as we aim to create a blueprint for gender-sensitive policy and regulatory reforms that can be replicated across the continent, unlocking the untapped potential of women entrepreneurs.”
The objective is to identify and implement policy and regulatory reforms that will pave the way for improved access to financing for women-led SMEs.
At the heart of this initiative is the African Development Bank’s flagship program, the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA), which strives to bridge the finance gap for African women entrepreneurs.
Dr. Alfred Hannig, Executive Director of AFI, emphasized the urgency of the partnership, stating, “Africa boasts the highest percentage of women entrepreneurs globally, yet these enterprising women face the lowest rates of access to finance to grow their businesses. AFI is excited to embark on this innovative journey with the African Development Bank to redefine our approach to closing this financing gap.”
Director Kaba’s presence at the AFI Global Policy Forum also facilitated high-level discussions with Central Bank governors from multiple African nations. She further participated in a roundtable discussion alongside donors and philanthropic organizations, exploring avenues to address the global finance gap.
The AfDB-AFI partnership represents a concerted effort to empower Africa’s women entrepreneurs, ultimately contributing to economic growth, job creation, and gender equality across the continent. As they chart this new course, all eyes will be on the tangible impact this transformative project will have on women-led SMEs in Africa.
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