The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has reaffirmed its unwavering commitment to supporting women-led enterprises on the African continent.
The bank’s website statement said it will provide grants to small businesses to ensure this was achieved.
”The AfDB’s Gender Equality Trust Fund(GETF) will provide a 950,000 dollars grant to the Africa Small and Medium Enterprise Business Linkages (SMEBL) Programme in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger.
”The grant, which will supplement an earlier 3.9 million dollars financing grant from the Bank’s Transition Support Facility, is expected to bolster 1,400 women-led enterprises.
”It will also contribute to the region’s economic resilience and social cohesion,” it said.
According to the statement, the GETF supports the delivery and scaling of the bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa, (AFAWA) program.
It explained that AFAWA aimed to close the 42 billion dollars gender financing gap for women-led African enterprises by promoting gender-transformative lending and non-lending operations.
The AfDB’s Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society, Malado Kaba, expressed the Bank’s excitement in impacting over a thousand women entrepreneurs across the Sahel region, through this programme.
“We believe one key to building resilient African societies is the inclusion of women in economic development.
”The programme’s wide range of business-related training and coaching, in addition to increasing access to finance will go a long way toward reaching that goal,” she added.
According to Kaba, women entrepreneurs in the Sahel region face significant barriers to accessing finance, markets, and business development services.
She said the Africa SMEBL Programme would provide women entrepreneurs with the tools and resources needed to overcome these barriers and grow their businesses.
” It will also help increase productivity and employment opportunities, especially for young women and men, including offering capacity building in entrepreneurship, core business functions and management training,” she said.
Kaba said the bank’s Gender, Women and Civil Society Department conducted three studies and consulted with Sahel region chambers of commerce to identify women-led businesses to participate in the program.
According to her, AfDB also supports national statistics offices to build more robust, gender-responsive data, which helps measure programme impact especially in the context of women-led enterprises on the African continent
”The G5 Sahel Union of Chambers of Commerce will administer the programme in collaboration with financial institutions and intermediaries to directly support access to finance for local, small and medium enterprises.
”The Africa (SMEBL) Programme aligns with the AfDB’s 2021-2024 Private Sector Development Strategy, its 2021-2025 Gender Strategy and the 2022-2026 strategy for addressing fragility and building resilience in Africa.
”The Bank Group’s Board of Directors approved the grant on March 23,” Kaba said.