African women entrepreneurs to get a shot in the arm for their businesses

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Women entrepreneurs from Africa have a reason to smile following a move by the African Development Bank Group to launch a project seeking to enhance viability and sustainability of these businesses.

While all countries will be considered, preference will be given to proposals implemented in the following countries: Cameroon, Congo, Democratic Republique of Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa,Tanzania, Rwanda and Zambia to align with the ongoing Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) Guarantee for Growth Program pipeline.

Burundian women attire

The AFAWA program dubbed allows entrepreneurship enablers, which include business associations and civil society organizations, play an important role in empowering women to establish bankable SMEs and other businesses.

However, the enablers themselves often face challenges, such as long-term growth plans and lack of financing, which reduce their reach, impact and sustainability.

Funding requests may be for a specific project or for an indicative program of several projects, or over several countries. The minimum threshold for requesting funding from this call for proposal is $100,000 and the maximum threshold is $250,000.

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Women’s business associations, incubators, accelerators, and cooperatives that advance women’s entrepreneurship, can apply for funding for innovative projects or programs to bolster the skills of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) owned and run by women across Africa, the Bank announced.

According to the Esther Dassanou, manager of the AFAWA program, women business enablers are critical to creating a viable enabling environment in which women entrepreneurs can grow and create businesses that generate jobs for the continent.

“Through the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa initiative, the Bank is committed to supporting enablers to strengthen the business and financial skills as well as wealth-creating capacity of their members,” said Ms Dassanou.

The Bank will assess applicants’ track record in supporting women SMEs, innovation and strong development impact, as well as their capacity to mobilize other sources of funding.

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Applications must be received by midnight on 30 May 2021.

“This call for proposals is an opportunity for direct and concrete support for women entrepreneurship enablers to scale up their growth and impact, and advance women’s financial inclusion on the continent,” said Vanessa Moungar, Bank Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society.

AFAWA aims to unlock $5 billion in financing for small and medium enterprises owned and managed by women by 2026. AFAWA is supported by the Bank’s partners and donors, the Group of Seven (G7) countries as well as the Netherlands and Sweden, and the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi). The funding, which aims to strengthen the ecosystem for women’s entrepreneurship, is in line with the Bank’s agenda to further gender equality and women’s empowerment.

AFAWA which is a joint initiative of the African Development Bank and African Guarantee Fund is a risk-sharing facility that will de-risk lending to women through AGF’s partial guarantees to financial institutions and its capacity development to women entrepreneurs to adequately prepare them for easier access to finance.

AFAWA takes a holistic approach based on boosting access to finance for women-owned and women-led businesses; strengthening the capacity of women entrepreneurs and financial institutions; and mobilising and supporting African governments to enact the legal, political and regulatory reforms needed for the development of women’s entrepreneurship.

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Yvonne Kawira is an award winning journalist with an interest in matters, regional trade, tourism, entrepreneurship and aviation. She has been practicing for six years and has a degree in mass communication from St Paul’s University.

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