* introduces first beneficiaries
The African Development Bank in collaboration with the African Guarantee Fund has announced the rollout of the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) in celebration of this year’s International Women’s Day with a showcase of the first beneficiaries of the programme.
The AFFAWA Guarantee for Growth program is an innovation aimed at unlocking up to $3 billion in loans to women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Beneficiaries of the scheme will be taking part in an online event which is being co-organized by AFAWA and the African Guarantee Fund on Monday 8 March with the theme, “Women entrepreneurs: key drivers of economic growth.”
The virtual session seeks to expound on how the AFAWA Guarantee for Growth program works and how it partners with financial institutions to address the financial and non-financial needs of African women entrepreneurs through the provision of finance, technical assistance, and creating an enabling environment to promote policy changes and regulatory reforms.
Speaking on the programme, ADB’s Director for Women, Gender and Civil Society, Vanessa Moungar said, “The African Development Bank has mobilized its resources, and the support of its global partners, in what is to date, our most ambitious effort ever to change the landscape on access to finance for African women entrepreneurs.”
The first participants in the programme include; Catherine Mumbua Wanjoya, the founder of a company manufacturing biodegradable and affordable sanitary towels, and waste incinerators; Terry Mungai, the CEO of a beauty and hair care franchise institution; Mbuaya Kalenga Mdhy, who heads a semi-industrial sewing company; and hotelier Bijour Esther Monga Ilunga Kazadi.
The AFAWA Guarantee for Growth programme targets financial institutions to increase their appetite to lend to women who are known to be better payers, and who reinvest up to 90% of their income in the education, health, and nutrition of their family and community.
The programme de-risks women entrepreneurs and enhances financial institutions’ appetite in lending to SMEs. Supported by the Group of Seven (G7) countries as well as the Netherlands and Sweden, the AFAWA Guarantee for Growth program is implemented in collaboration with the African Guarantee Fund, which works to facilitate access to finance for SMEs in Africa.
“We have realized when talking to financial institutions that they don’t see AFAWA as a favor that we are doing to women. It is a huge business opportunity to tap into a customer segment that has not been explored before,” said Jules Ngankam, CEO of the African Guarantee Fund.
Esther Dassanou, Manager of AFAWA said financial institutions in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda are signing on to the program, and that the program could be a game-changer across the continent.
“The AFAWA Guarantee for Growth program is different and innovative from what is on the market, in the sense that it tackles all the major challenges that women entrepreneurs face in accessing financing and growing their business at the same time,” Dassanou added.