Harare - The African Development Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) programme will unlock up to US$2 billion in loans to women-owned SMEs on the continent.
This marks the launch of AFAWA’s Guarantee for Growth (G4G) programme, which aims to make available up to US$3 billion in financing for female entrepreneurs through de-risking and technical assistance via financial institutions.
AFAWA co-ordinator Ms Esther Dassanou said there was an urgent need to establish regulatory frameworks and avail financial assistance to address issues affecting women's growth in business.
"The bank will work with regulators to reform the legal and regulatory frameworks affecting women businesses' access to finance," she added.
Mr Stefan Nalletamby, the AfDB’s director of financial sector development, said banking institutions joining the program would be helping to create a level playing field for the growth of women in business.
"The signing of the AFAWA Guarantee for Growth programme with the African Guarantee Fund is a critical milestone for the bank to successfully deploy on-the-ground financing instruments better suited to addressing the financing and training needs of women-owned small and medium enterprises in Africa for the growth of their businesses," Mr Nalletamby said.
African Development Bank statistics indicate that women businesspersons face a US$42 billion financing gap annually, which AFAWA aims to bridge.
The bank also cites the lack of access to collateral in the form of land and property, as well as gaps in knowledge, mentorship and networks to grow their businesses.
Already, financial institutions in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda have signed onto the AfDB programme.