AfDB Empowers African Women Businesses with $7bn

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By Adedapo Adesanya

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) has announced the approval of a new Gender Equality Trust Fund (GETF), aimed at pushing forward gender equality and women’s empowerment across the continent.

The fund is worth $7 billion and will see a first tranche of up to $2 billion given to the beneficiaries in credit, with a further $5 billion. The fund is purely to support women-empowered businesses in Africa.

The AfDB, in a statement over the weekend, explained that the GETF, which was funded by donors, would support the delivery and scale-up of the Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) programme and promote gender transformative lending and non-lending operations.

According to the bank, the GETF, which is the first thematic fund on gender in its history, is to run for an initial period of 10 years and was aimed at pushing forward gender equality and women’s empowerment across the continent.

The statement reads, “The Africa Guarantee Fund (AGF) has been chosen as the first implementing partner to facilitate access to finance for women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

“AGF is a Pan-African entity that provides financial institutions with guarantees and other financial products to support SMEs in Africa.

“AGF has a network spread out over 42 African countries and 150-plus financial institutions, which AFAWA will leverage.

“This first transaction is expected to unlock up to $2 billion in credit for women empowered businesses across the continent.”

The bank further explained that AFAWA is its flagship pan-African initiative which aims to bridge the $42 billion financing gap facing women in Africa, adding that through AFAWA, the Bank is spearheading a major push to unlock women’s entrepreneurial capacity and economic participation for maximum development impact.

According to the AfDB, anchor investors in the GETF are the governments of France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The bank also added that apart from the G7 donors and the Netherlands, other countries are showing strong interest in contributing to the initiative, including Rwanda and Sweden.

The AfDB said it would continue to mobilize resources in order to unlock $5 billion worth of financing for women-empowered businesses in Africa, especially as AFAWA is also an implementing partner of the Women Entrepreneurship Finance (We-Fi) Initiative.

Speaking on the development, President of the AfDB, Mr Akinwumi Adesina, said, “It’s a great day for us as a bank.

“It is a great day for the continent and the women of Africa as this facility provides innovative ways to tackle the access to finance challenges for African women business owners.”

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