Only 4.3 per cent of women entrepreneurs have access to loans in Africa, a delegation has been told.
An EAC Secretariat delegation has completed a week-long visit to financial institutions in Kenya and Rwanda.
The objective of the visit was to engage through consultative meetings with key financial institutions on the implementation of the 50 Million African Women Speak Networking Platform (50MWS) Project.
According to the EAC Director for Social Sectors, Mary Makoffu the EAC Secretariat had embarked on this engagement with financial institutions at a time when the World is striving to promote financial inclusion, encouraging financial institutions and decision makers to facilitate women access finance the same way men do.
“Women are the pillars of our shaky economies and need to be supported for the interest of the whole society. It is however visible that there are still many more men with access to financial services like loans and bank accounts than women”, said Ms. Makoffu.
While visiting Kenya, Verity Mganga, the Deputy Director, Gender Affairs, Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs in the Republic of Kenya, stressed on the critical role financial institutions have in the implementation of the 50MWS Project.
“I believe that cooperation between the Project and financial institutions is paramount, we must take cognizance of the ability of our financial institutions to promoting financial inclusion”, stated the Deputy Director.
During the Rwanda leg of the visit, the Director of Women Economic Empowerment, Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, Jean Bosco Murangira, saluted the initiative of engaging Financial institutions around the implementation of the 50MWS Project.
“The 50MWS Project is coming to complement the efforts that are already being deployed by the Government of Rwanda in the fight against unemployment”, the Director remarked.
Rwanda has embarked on a plan to create 1.5 million jobs by the year 2024, half of which target women and girls. Mr. Murangira noted however that most of the women targeted still lack skills that would enable them utilize the opportunity fully.
“I urge the implementers of the 50 MWS Project to prioritize building the capacity of women entrepreneurs therefore helping fast track the regions goals in the domain of women economic empowerment,” he added.
During the visit, Ministries involved in the implementation of the project in Kenya and Rwanda reaffirmed their commitment and called upon all stakeholders to support the innovative initiative.
Representatives of the Financial Institutions who attended the meetings highlighted that one of the biggest challenges that women entrepreneurs face besides lack of capital is the lack of confidence, right attitude and mindset to succeed in business.
They therefore recommended the Project to include capacity building sessions to supplement women entrepreneurs in their endeavors.
Most of the banks the EAC delegation engaged with said they have already embarked on the financial inclusion path by setting up products that specifically target women. The banks further expressed their comfort in working with women having noted an impressive trend in their loan repayments.