By Asmau Ahmad
The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) have renewed a project partnership to support Africa’s women-led small and medium-sized enterprises.
The Bank in a statement on its website said the renewed partnership would support policy and regulatory reforms for the businesses for a further four years.
According to the statement, the Bank’s Gender Equality Trust Fund will contribute over four million dollars in grant funding to the project.
It said the announcement came on during the 2023 AFI Global Policy Forum in Manila.
AFI is a global policy leadership alliance owned and led by central banks and financial regulatory institutions with the purpose of advancing financial inclusion around the world.
According to the statement, the AfDB and AFI will under the new agreement carry out new research in 13 additional African countries.
“It will identify opportunities for reform in policies and regulations that will have the greatest impact in addressing obstacles to accessing finance.
“The partners will work with policymakers, financial regulators, and other key stakeholders across the 20 target countries to design and implement these reforms.
“The Bank’s flagship Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) initiative will implement the project in conjunction with AFI. “AFAWA works to close the finance gap for African women entrepreneurs,” it added.
The AfDB Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society, Malado Kaba, said the Bank was thrilled to launch this new chapter in their long-standing relationship with AFI.
Kaba said: “Over the next four years, we will create a new model for gender-sensitive policy and regulatory reforms.
“Which can be applied by governments across the continent to unlock the power and potential of women entrepreneurs.
“The project builds on the findings from earlier in-depth research undertaken by both partners in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Zambia, and Zimbabwe,” she said.
The AFI Executive Director Dr Alfred Hannig said while Africa had the world’s highest percentage of women entrepreneurs, women SMEs had the lowest rates of access to finance to grow their businesses.
“AFI is delighted to launch an innovative partnership with the AfDB which will transform our understanding of how to close this financing gap,” he said.