The African Development Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA), an initiative of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has supported African women entrepreneurs with over $1 billion in approved funding to boost their businesses and incomes.
The AFAWA was launched in 2015 in Dakar during the first Feed Africa conference (Dakar 1 Africa Food Summit).
The AfDB’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Dr. Beth Dunford, while speaking during the just concluded Dakar 2 Africa Food Summit which was co-hosted by the Bank and the Government of Senegal, expressed his delight on the initiative’s financing achievements, noting that “AFAWA’s benchmark reminds us that when we invest to grow Africa’s food systems, we must also invest in Africa’s women agripreneurs.”
In the last two years, the development finance institution, through AFAWA, has multiplied the volume of investments toward women-owned small and medium enterprises sevenfold.
Also sharing her experience on the initiative, the bank’s Director of Gender, Women and Civil Society Department, Malado Kaba, said: “By the end of December 2022, AFAWA-approved lending to women-led small and medium sized enterprises reached $1.051 billion. Of that, $135 million targets women in the agriculture sector.
“AFAWA’s approved lending reaches across 27 countries, and through 56 financial institutions. Already 4,115 women business owners have benefited from AFAWA financing instruments. This is just the beginning”, she added.
The banker assured that the bank would this year “continue to work closely with its partners “to accelerate their ability to lend to women-led micro and small enterprises.
“Ensuring that the enabling environment is inclusive to enhance women’s ability to access financing will be critical. Thus, we will work closely with policymakers to ensure that the right reforms are in place to accelerate women-led small and medium enterprises’ financial access”, Kaba added.
Available statistics on the continent’s agricultural sector showed that over the years, women run the majority of Africa’s agricultural sector small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), yet they face significant challenges in accessing funds.
The data indicated that across the continent, African women entrepreneurs faced an estimated $42 billion gender financing gap compared to men.
It is furtherance of the AfDB’s efforts to bridge the funding gender gap among African women ‘agripreneurs’ to grow their businesses, through AFAWA investment, that it is working to boost the professional and financial capacities of over 200 women cooperatives in the staple crop food sector in Cote d’Ivoire.