Ecobank’s Ellevate Grants $177m to 73,000 Women Businesses

March 25, 2024
Ecobank Ellevate

By Adedapo Adesanya

Pan-African banking group, Ecobank, says it has onboarded over 73,000 women business customers and lent more than $177 million since its launch of its Ellevate programme in November 2020.

This came as the lender became an official signatory of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) by UN Women and the UN Global Compact, which guide the private sector on how to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace and community.

WEPs are a primary vehicle for corporate delivery on gender equality dimensions of the 2030 agenda and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. By joining the WEPs community, Ecobank reiterated its commitment to this agenda at the highest levels of the conglomerate and a desire to work collaboratively in multistakeholder networks to empower women. These include equal pay for work of equal value, gender-responsive supply chain practices and zero tolerance against sexual harassment in the workplace.

The bank’s Ellevate programme provides women-owned, led or focused businesses with a comprehensive suite of cash management, borderless payments and collections, banking and funding solutions, in addition to skills training and mentoring.

According to a statement, Ecobank Group CEO, Mr Jeremy Awori, announced the signature of these principles during a webinar organised by Ecobank Foundation and UN Women on the occasion of the International Women’s Day celebrations themed Invest in Women: Why does it matter? How can we accelerate it? which discussed the importance of investing in women to build inclusive societies, and success strategies to counter unconscious biases and discriminatory practices that hinder investments in women.

“At Ecobank, we are fully committed to driving gender equality. Ensuring that women and girls have equal rights as men and boys and can attain their full potential without facing discrimination in any aspect of their lives. This is essential to achieving a sustainable, just, and prosperous society.

“Across the Bank, we have implemented numerous initiatives and solutions, including our multi-award-winning Ellevate programme to meet the financial and non-financial needs of women’s businesses, and we will continue to introduce new solutions. While we recognise that there is more to do, signing the WEPs is another step in our absolute commitment and determination to advance gender equality and inclusion,” he said.

It was also disclosed that Ecobank has implemented several other initiatives to advance gender equality and inclusion. These include establishing a Diversity and Inclusion Council to create an environment where individuals can thrive without discrimination or bias.

Additionally, Ecobank has signed the Women Working for Change Gender Diversity Charter; sponsored awareness programmes on gender-based violence for its staff; and implemented mentoring programmes, along with comprehensive learning and development initiatives aimed at advancing women’s career progression.

The bank also announced that it will soon launch a women-supplier programme to onboard more women-owned and women-led businesses into its procurement database.

Congratulating Ecobank Group, Ms Mireille Kamitatu, Deputy Regional Director UN Women Regional Office West and Central Africa said: “I am pleased to acknowledge Ecobank Group’s commitment confirmed by the signing the WEPs. We commend the leadership of this Pan-African bank, spanning 35 countries, for its decisive step in advancing gender equality across the continent. UN Women stands ready to offer support in your gender-focused initiatives towards our ultimate objective to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”.

Adedapo Adesanya

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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