In celebration of International Women’s Day and to mark the rollout of the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) Guarantee for Growth programme, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the African Guarantee Fund (AGF) are showcasing the first beneficiaries of the AFAWA Guarantee for Growth programme.
The programme is an innovation aiming to unlock up to $3 billion in loans to women-led small and medium size enterprises (SMEs).
A news report by the African Press Organisation (APO), distributed on behalf of the AfDB, indicated that the beneficiaries are today taking part in an online panel event, co-organized by AFAWA and the African Guarantee Fund.
Under the theme, “Women entrepreneurs: key drivers of economic growth,” the virtual session is focusing on how the AFAWA Guarantee for Growth programme works with financial institutions to address the financial and non-financial needs of African women entrepreneurs, by offering access to finance, providing technical assistance and create an enabling environment to promote policy changes and regulatory reforms.
Commenting on the programme’s benefits, the Bank’s Director for Women, Gender and Civil Society, Vanessa Moungar, said “the African Development Bank has mobilized its resources, and the support of its global partners, in what is to date, our most ambitious effort ever to change the landscape on access to finance for African women entrepreneurs.”
The first participants in the programme include; Catherine Mumbua Wanjoya, the founder of a company manufacturing biodegradable and affordable sanitary towels, and waste incinerators; Terry Mungai, the CEO of a beauty and hair care franchise institution; Mbuaya Kalenga Mdhy, who heads a semi-industrial sewing company; and hotelier Bijour Esther Monga Ilunga Kazadi.
The AFAWA Guarantee for Growth programme targets financial institutions to increase their appetite to lend to women who are known to be better payers, and who reinvest up to 90% of their income in the education, health and nutrition of their family and community.
The program de-risks women entrepreneurs and enhances financial institutions’ appetite in lending to SMEs. Supported by the Group of Seven (G7) countries as well as the Netherlands and Sweden, the AFAWA Guarantee for Growth program is implemented in collaboration with the African Guarantee Fund, which works to facilitate access to finance for SMEs in Africa.
In her remarks, CEO of the African Guarantee Fund, Jules Ngankam, said: “We have realized when talking to financial institutions that they don’t see AFAWA as a favor that we are doing to women. It is a huge business opportunity to tap into a customer segment that has not been explored before.”
Also, Manager of AFAWA, Esther Dassanou, hinted that financial institutions in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda were signing on to the programme, and that the programme could be a game changer across the continent.
“The AFAWA Guarantee for Growth programme is different and innovative from what is on the market, in the sense that it tackles all the major challenges that women entrepreneurs face in accessing financing and growing their business at the same time,” Dassanou added.