The African Development Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) programme gained momentum with significant support from commercial banks and a $1 million commitment from the government of Rwanda.
The Bank and partners officially launched AFAWA Risk Sharing Facility, on Monday, at a press conference held during the 2019 Global Gender Summit currently underway in Kigali, Rwanda.
AFAWA is one of the Bank’s flagship gender-focused programmes which seeks to accelerate growth and employment creation across African economies, by closing the financing gap for women.
“Today is a great day!” said Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank. With this facility, women will be able to receive technical assistance. We shall strengthen our capacity and we shall get there. The decision that we are taking today is highly transformational. It will permanently transform Africa.”
The press conference was attended by Mr. Philippe Lacoste, Director of Sustainable Development, Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, representing French President Emmanuel Macron, Ambassador of Netherlands to Rwanda, Matthijs Wolters; and Rwandan Minister of Finance Uzziel Ndagijimana. Several heads of commercial banks were also in attendance.
“The government of Rwanda fully supports this initiative and is ready to work with the Bank to make AFAWA a success,” Ndagijimana, said.
Ambassador Wolters said the Netherlands would soon announce a significant contribution to AFAWA.
Attijariwafa Bank and the African Guarantee Fund signed a $50 million Memorandum of Understanding to de-risk lending to women through partial guarantees.
Hicham Fadili, Head of Development, International Retail, Attijariwafa Bank said: “These agreements will allow us to give new impetus to women’s entrepreneurship in Africa. Today is the first step of a long journey.”
African Guarantee Fund Jules Ngankam Deputy CEO thanked the donors for their commitment. “ We have just reduced the gap between women and financial institutions. We now have the capacity to cover 75% of risks.”
AFAWA is expected to unlock $3 billion in private sector financing to empower female entrepreneurs through capacity-building development, access to finance as well as policy, legal and regulatory reforms to support enterprises led by women.
In August, G7 leaders approved a package totaling $251 million in support of AFAWA during the summit in Biarritz.
Olukayode Pitan, president of Nigerian Bank of Industry said with the signings they could lend more to women. ” Any women’s business is good business.”
Kennedy Uzoka President and CEO of United Bank of Africa hailed the agreements as an important moment for “our mothers and our daughters. The road to financial credit is paved with difficulties for women. But once they pass through the gate, they never look back.”
Signing on behalf of ECOBANK, Joséphine Anan-Ankomah, CEO of Ecobank Group, gave
assurances that her bank was committed and ready to adapt its methods to help ensure women’s success. “We will be there for AFAWA. Our ambition is to be the benchmark for other institutions.”
The 2019 Global Gender Summit is co-organized by Rwanda and the African Development Bank. It aims to share best practice and encourage innovation to accelerate progress on gender equality.