By Nation Reporter
A PROGRAMME to mobilize funding for women of up to US$300 million to address the financing gap has been launched by the African Development Bank (AfDB).
The “Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA)”, would comprise four components, with the AfDB expected to provide part of the financing, which would in turn catalyze additional funding from other investors.
The creation of an AFAWA programme was a direct response to international pledges, in particular to the resolution on the need to establish a financing facility for women’s economic empowerment.
The AfDB’s special envoy for gender Geraldin Moleketi said at the official opening that the financing gap for women in Africa was estimated at US$42 billion.
Ms Moleketi said AfDB would contribute up to US$150 million of investment over the next two years towards the programme from the non-concessional lending window.
“The objective is to unleash women potential in Africa. The programme is a catalyst for market forces in Africa and will have a financing window,” she said.
She said the limited access to finance remained one of the barriers for promoting women entrepreneurship in Africa.
She said the AfDB was demonstrating commitment to advancing the Gender Equality Agenda, in particular in addressing the challenges women faced in accessing finance through AFAWA.
Meanwhile, Mara Group and Manal Mara Foundation chief executive officer Ashish Thakkar said economic empowerment for women was essential in dynamic economies.
Mr Thakkar observed that there was bias against young and women entrepreneurs in Africa which needed urgent attention.
“Women deserve equal treatment with men and there is also need to create a level playing field while promoting the private sector to step in,” he said.