08 Jan AfDB to unlock $5 billion for African women entrepreneurs
African Development Bank’s board of directors has approved a five-year strategy promising to bolster women’s economic growth through a $5 billion credit access.
The three-pillar gender strategy for 2021-2025 coined “Investing in Africa’s women to accelerate inclusive growth,” puts the bank’s focus in unlocking $5 billion to credit women-owned small and medium enterprises over the period.
“This is a significant milestone for the bank as it will guide our interventions in the next five years as we continue to increase our efforts to achieve outcomes and maximum impact on building gender equality on the ground for women to thrive,” said Vanessa Moungar, Bank Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society in a January 7 statement on its website.
Apart from financial support, the bank commits to offering women technical assistance in order to convert their ventures into productive and competitive enterprises, as provided in the first pillar.
It will also strive to create opportunities for women in the non-financial sectors during the five-year period.
Guided by the plan, the bank aims at leveraging technology to ensure an increased number of women access skills and information in areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This is to accelerate their employability as well as opportunities for creating self-employment.
The bank, which believes in gender equality as a driving force to transform Africa, would as a lender push for gender responsive infrastructural projects to benefit women as stakeholders, workers and end-users, promises the strategy.
In the statement, the bank says “Gender inequality in the labour market costs sub-Saharan Africa $95 million each year.”
It further states that the “The current Covid-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the need for immediate attention to support vulnerable women and girls in fragile areas.”
In reaffirming the need for supporting women post-Covid-19, the bank refers to a study it jointly conducted last year with UN Women and Impact Her, which found that 80 per cent of women-owned small and medium enterprises in 30 African countries had to temporarily or permanently shut down their businesses due to pandemic restrictions.
Closure of women-led businesses means more women lose jobs.
A 2017 Graça Machel Trust study questioned 398 female entrepreneurs in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda on gender composition of their human resource and found out that 55 of the female entrepreneurs have more than half of their staff as females.
“Therefore, empowering women-owned or -led businesses can drive more diversity in the workforce,” states the Survey to Explore Growth Barriers Faced by Female Entrepreneurs in East Africa