Letshego Nigeria wins AFAWA Bank of the Year Award for crucial role in empowering African female entrepreneurs
May 25, 2023207 views0 comments
By Onome Amuge
In a year in which big Nigerian big banks, including those with pan-African credentials, failed to make the shortlist of the African Banker Awards, Letshego Nigeria, redeemed some bragging rights for the country by winning the inaugural AFAWA Bank of the Year Award, a category spotlighting financial institutions empowering female entrepreneurs across the continent.
The Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) is a pan-African initiative to bridge the $42 billion financing gap facing African women business owners, who are considered the highest percentage of women entrepreneurs in the world.
Letshego Nigeria is part of the Letshego Group, an African multinational retail financial service organisation that provides financial services to micro and small entrepreneurs as well as government and non-government employees. With the disbursement of 5,115 loans in 2022 alone, the company has been able to direct 63 per cent of its lending support to women-led micro and small businesses in Nigeria.
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The company, in its appreciation statement, said: “We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the African Development Bank Group for bestowing this esteemed recognition upon us. This award stands as a testament to our unwavering dedication in empowering women in Africa.
We would like to express our deepest appreciation to the Letshego team for their tireless work and collaborative efforts – your commitment and enthusiasm have been instrumental in our success.
To our valued stakeholders and partners, we sincerely thank you for your unwavering support. Together, we eagerly anticipate embarking on new ventures and continuing our shared journey of success.”
Letshego Nigeria added that the remarkable achievement underscores its commitment to advancing economic growth and empowering women throughout Africa.
The African Banker Awards 2023 Gala Ceremony, the most prestigious event in the African banking calendar, was held recently at the Rixos Hotel in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt on the sidelines of the African Development Bank (AfDB) annual meetings.
The ceremony, which marked its 17th edition, was attended by over 300 of the continent’s leading bankers, regulators, and policymakers who joined in celebrating the achievements of individuals and institutions that have contributed significantly to the growth and development of Africa’s banking sector over the past year.
Harvesh Kumar Seegolam, the youngest ever serving governor of Mauritius Central Bank, was recognised as the Central Bank Governor of the Year, for his outstanding performance in leveraging Mauritius Investment Corporation (MIC) to provide critical financial support to key sectors of the economy by investing in private sector operators.
Another notable recognition was for Esther Kariuki,head of agriculture business at the Co-op Bank of Kenya,who became the second woman to win African Banker of the Year Award. Kariuki is considered a central figure in advancing agriculture as a key asset class for her institution, and also responsible for considerably increasing lending to the agriculture sector and oversaw the roll-out of the platform Co-op Bank Soko.
The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) won two awards in recognition of its growing leadership within Africa’s financial services sector. The Cairo-based institution was celebrated as both African Bank of the Year and Development Financial Institution of the Year, making it the sole institution to win more than one award during the 2023 ceremony.
South Africa’s Enoch Godongwana won the Minister of Finance of the Year Award, for his steadfast management of the economy as finance minister as well as the work he has done to encourage investment to accelerate the energy transition.
The African Banker Icon was won by Miguel Azevedo, head of investment banking for sub-saharan Africa excluding South Africa at Citi.
Omar Ben Yedder, Committee Chairman and Group Publisher at IC Publications, publishers of African Banker Magazine, remarked that this year’s award ceremony is a testament not only to the vibrancy and dynamism of Africa’s banking industry but also its increasing diversity.
“The financial services industry continues to demonstrate excellence, innovation and impact in their respective markets and regions. FinTech, Climate Finance, Cross-Border payments are all being shaped by the leaders we are recognising today,” he added.