In celebration of International Women’s Day, and to mark the rollout of the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) Guarantee for Growth program, the African Development Bank and the African Guarantee Fund are showcasing the first beneficiaries of the AFAWA Guarantee for Growth program – an innovation aiming to unlock up to $3 billion in loans to women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The beneficiaries are taking part in an online panel event, co-organized by AFAWA and the African Guarantee Fund on Monday 8 March. Under the theme, “Women entrepreneurs: key drivers of economic growth,” the virtual session centres on how the AFAWA Guarantee for Growth program works with financial institutions to address the financial and non-financial needs of African women entrepreneurs, by offering access to finance, providing technical assistance and create an enabling environment to promote policy changes and regulatory reforms.
“The African Development Bank has mobilized its resources, and the support of its global partners, in what is to date, our most ambitious effort ever to change the landscape on access to finance for African women entrepreneurs,” said Vanessa Moungar, the Bank’s Director for Women, Gender and Civil Society.
The first participants in the program include; Catherine Mumbua Wanjoya, the founder of a company manufacturing biodegradable and affordable sanitary towels, and waste incinerators; Terry Mungai, the CEO of a beauty and hair care franchise institution; Mbuaya Kalenga Mdhy, who heads a semi-industrial sewing company; and hotelier Bijour Esther Monga Ilunga Kazadi.
It tackles all the major challenges that women entrepreneurs face in accessing financing and growing their business at the same time
The AFAWA Guarantee for Growth program targets financial institutions to increase their appetite to lend to women who are known to be better payers, and who reinvest up to 90% of their income in the education, health and nutrition of their family and community.
The program de-risks women entrepreneurs and enhances financial institutions’ appetite in lending to SMEs. Supported by the Group of Seven (G7) countries as well as the Netherlands and Sweden, the AFAWA Guarantee for Growth program is implemented in collaboration with the African Guarantee Fund, which works to facilitate access to finance for SMEs in Africa.
“We have realized when talking to financial institutions that they don’t see AFAWA as a favor that we are doing to women. It is a huge business opportunity to tap into a customer segment that has not been explored before,” said Jules Ngankam, CEO of the African Guarantee Fund.
Esther Dassanou, Manager of AFAWA said financial institutions in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda are signing on to the program, and that the program could be a game-changer across the continent.
“The AFAWA Guarantee for Growth program is different and innovative from what is on the market, in the sense that it tackles all the major challenges that women entrepreneurs face in accessing financing and growing their business at the same time,” Dassanou added.