The Governing Committee of the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) has approved a funding allocation of US$61.8 million for the African Development Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) program.
We-Fi is a partnership among 14 donor governments, eight multilateral development banks, and other public and private sector stakeholders, established in October 2017 and hosted by the World Bank Group.
“This substantial support from the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, We-Fi, will help us scale up our actions and achieve greater results for women entrepreneurs across the continent. Our ambition with AFAWA goes beyond regular assistance to women in business,” Vanessa Moungar, the Bank’s Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society said about the announcement.
With the We-Fi funding, AFAWA intends to improve access to finance for 40,000 women-owned/led small and medium enterprises in 21 African countries, mainly in low-income and fragile countries, where women entrepreneurs face greater challenges in accessing finance, markets, knowledge, and mentoring programs. Specifically, the program’s activities will be implemented in Botswana, Burundi, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
The activities funded by We-Fi will be aligned with AFAWA’s three-pronged approach to holistically addressing the $42 billion financing gap between women and male entrepreneurs.
The first AFAWA pillar aims to increase access to finance for women through innovative and tailored financial instruments, including guarantee mechanisms to back up women entrepreneurs.
In collaboration with strategic partners, the second pillar focuses on providing capacity-building services to women entrepreneurs, including access to mentoring and entrepreneurship training courses. AFAWA also helps financial institutions address the specific needs of women-owned/led businesses through tailored financial and non-financial products.
The third pillar concentrates on improving the business environment for women by engaging in policy dialogue with central banks and other relevant authorities and stakeholders.
Lastly, the We-Fi funding will reinforce initiatives of the Bank and partners, such as UN Women and CARE International, in favor of women entrepreneurs in various sectors that are frequently overlooked by traditional financiers, donors and governments. These special initiatives include Fashionomics Africa and the African women tech entrepreneurs program.