As part of its Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) program, the African Development Bank is partnering with Entreprenarium Foundation to train 1,000 women entrepreneurs in Africa.
Over the next four months, Entreprenarium will roll out training sessions on business development and financial management in five countries, beginning with Cote d’Ivoire (Abidjan) and Gabon (Libreville) on 10 December; followed by sessions in Kenya (Nairobi), South Africa (Johannesburg) and Tunisia (Tunis). The most promising projects will have the opportunity to receive funding. Alongside the training, The Bank and AFAWA will strengthen policy dialogue on the legal, policy and regulatory reforms necessary to promote women’s entrepreneurship and economic empowerment.
“This initiative truly represents AFAWA’s holistic approach to support women’s entrepreneurship…We are not only providing businesswomen the critical knowledge and skills they need to boost their businesses, but also facilitating their access to financing, while establishing dialogue with governments to create business environments that unleash their entrepreneurial capacity,” said Vanessa Moungar, Director of the Bank’s Gender, Women and Civil Society Department. The African continent hosts the highest percentage of women entrepreneurs in the world.
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2016/17 Women’s Report, female entrepreneurship rate in sub-Saharan Africa reaches 25.9 percent of the female adult population. Women typically reinvest up to 90 percent of their income in the education, health and nutrition of their family and community -compared to 30 to 40 percent from men, demonstrating greater development impact.
Despite this dynamic entrepreneurial attitude and the key role that women entrepreneurs play in Africa’s economic development, they face a number of challenges and often lack necessary business and financial skills that will enable them to access funding based on the maturity of their businesses. While the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector in Africa is the cornerstone of inclusive development, women have a harder time in gaining access to financing with an estimated US$42 billion financing gap for entrepreneurship across business value chains, including US$15.6 billion in agriculture alone.
Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa, or AFAWA, was launched at the African Development Bank’s Annual Meeting in May 2016 in Lusaka, Zambia. It is a pan-African initiative with an overarching objective of bridging the finance gap for women in Africa and unlocking their entrepreneurial capacity.
AFAWA adopts a holistic approach through three pillars: strengthening access to financing for women-owned and women-led businesses, building the capacity of women entrepreneurs and financial institutions, as well as engaging with and supporting African governments to ensure legal, policy and regulatory reforms required to accelerate women’s entrepreneurship.
Entreprenarium is the first pan-African foundation that invests philanthropic capital in the training and financing of women and young entrepreneurs. It designs and carries out programs with the objective of equipping entrepreneurs throughout Africa with the necessary skills, knowledge and resources to succeed in the creation and development of their small and medium-sized enterprises.
Since 2014, over 2,000 entrepreneurs have been trained and US$2.1 million initial capital invested in technical assistance and funding of 52 projects. Special attention is paid to women entrepreneurs through dedicated programs.