Global Gender Summit: Finance Chiefs call for women in business support

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The Global Gender Summit which kicked off on November 25 in Kigali-Rwanda, and first summit of-its-kind to be held in Africa, emerged with rather vital issues in the second-day, whereby top-notch financial leaders rallied their desire to see support to women business across the African business landscape.

The summit is running on a theme “Unpacking constraints to gender equality” has drawn in presidents, high government officials, multilateral development banks, private sector, civil society and top business and finance leaders from across the continent, who have mainstreamed their ideas on how gender issues influence African finance.

READ:Promoting women will boost African economic growth, World Bank says

According to the African Development Bank (AfDB) press release, Dr. Jennifer Blanke the bank’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, aligned her ideas along side other Leaders from multilateral development banks, financial institutions and the private sector called on peers to dispel myths about women being too “high risk” for financing – and to offer more financial services for women in business to close the gender finance gap.

Dr. Jennifer and the rest of finance leaders, aired their ideas during the plenary session on Tuesday, themed “Using Innovative Financing Mechanisms to Accelerate Finance for Women in Business”.

“We know that women are a good bet. We know they pay back. We know they run excellent businesses – and yet they are not getting financed,” Jennifer commented

Further, she finds that, it is an important step for multilateral development banks to offer credit guarantees to commercial banks to invest in women entrepreneurs.

In Africa, 70 per cent of women are excluded financially. The continent has a $42 billion financing gap between men and women. And women, who are the majority of farmers, face a financing gap of close to $16 billion.

On the same Mark, World Bank 2019 data show that, in Africa men have 36 per cent access to financial institutions than women with 23 per cent, while women 18 per cent access to mobile money accounts against 27 per cent of their male counterparts.

However, the panelists acknowledged the collective efforts taken to bring gender equity to financing. On the contrary, World Economic Forum data indicate that, at current rates of progress it will take at least 200 years to close the global pay gap between men and women.

On the same note, Asian Development Bank’s Gender Lead, Sakiko Tanaka, found the 2019 Global Gender Summit to have increased awareness of the need for women’s financial inclusion to achieve gender equality.

“There’s more money coming in for gender equality. However, there are still major gaps globally and as well as in each region,” said Tanaka.

In Africa, women face unique constraints in their quest for financial liberty, such as poorer access to collateral and land, running smaller business compared to male entrepreneurs and blurred lines between women’s personal and professional finance spend.

Tesi Rusagara, the head of Kigali Innovation City, commented that more services for documentation and financing tools are brought online, the more value will be created for women

The plenary session came forward with rather useful insights on the table, during the session—Head of WeFi (Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiatives) Wendy Teleki, led other chiefs on exploring how financial institutions and multilateral development banks are innovating to expand women’s access to finance. Aside from risk-sharing interventions like credit guarantees to lenders, panelists said increasing women’s financial literacy was also key to closing the gender gap.

“It’s not about corporate social responsibility or charity. It is about developing that business case and developing a proper set of financial and non-financial services, ” said Barbara Rambousek, Director for Gender and Economic Inclusion at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

Further, the summit panelist dissected crucial issues within, financial technology, alternative credit information, and online tools for financial services as a way to grow businesses.

READ:Exploring gender inclusiveness in Private Investments in Africa

Padili Mikomangwa is an environmentalist based in Tanzania. . He is passionate about helping communities be aware of critical issues cutting across, environmental economics and natural resources management. He holds a bachelors degree in Geography and Environmental Studies from University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

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