Ugandan businesswomen will be among the beneficiaries of a new US $500 million fund targeting women-led businesses in Africa over the next decade to increase their participation in investment.
The African Women’s Leadership Fund is a brainchild of the United Nations Economic Commission on Africa (Uneca), UN Women, the African Union Commission and the African Women Leadership Network.
Uneca Executive Secretary Vera Songwe says that the Fund’s sponsors hope to address a significant gender imbalance in finance and investment.
“Women are less represented in many organisations and very few are leaders. This in turn makes them less represented in key decision-making for the continent,” Ms Songwe says.
In Africa, only five per cent of chief executives are women; 18 per cent of businesses lack women in senior roles; only 29 per cent are senior managers while 44 per cent of women hold line roles, a 2016 report by Mackinsey & Company notes.
The fund’s strategy is to ensure that at least 65 per cent of its investment capital reaches women entrepreneurs and women-led companies. The rest — 35 per cent — will go to technical assistance in the form of capacity building, leadership training, mentorship and business development.
The fund hopes to find emerging women managers who will eventually serve as examples of the potential that they and their peers could have if given the support they need.
The fund targets each of the continent’s five regions of North Africa, East Africa, Central Africa, West Africa, and Southern Africa and will evolve over time to address the unique traits of each market and reflect each region’s priorities as they change.
Ms Songwe says the success of the fund will lead not only to economic empowerment of African women, but also contribute to increasing their role across all aspects of the continent’s development, including politics, civil society, education, science and technology.