The African Development Bank's Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) program has signed a financial procedures agreement with the World Bank-led Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi).
"This agreement is an important milestone for the AFAWA program, and presents an opportunity to leverage substantial resources to unlock the transformational potential of women's entrepreneurship in Africa," said Vanessa Moungar, Director of the Bank's Gender, Women and Civil Society Department.
The agreement was signed on 15 October 2018 in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.
Moungar said the agreement would lead to further collaboration on similar programmes and the opportunity to share lessons learned.
Women form the backbone of African economies and have a critical role to play in inclusive economic development. However, they face numerous challenges in obtaining financing, owning and expanding businesses and access to capital and technology.
Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, or We-Fi, is a collaborative partnership among 14 governments, eight multilateral development banks, and other public and private sector stakeholders, hosted by the World Bank Group. It seeks to address financial and non-financial constraints faced by women-owned/led small and medium enterprises in developing countries.
We-Fi issues calls for proposals for projects, programs, and activities that are aligned with its objectives and principles. Project implementation is led by Implementing Partners that are screened and accredited by the We-Fi Governing Committee. The first approved proposals were announced on 19 April 2018, with US$120 million allocated for proposals submitted by the Asian Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, and World Bank Group. Under We-Fi's second call for proposals, issued on 17 October 2018, up to US$120 million of financing is available for programs and projects contributing to supporting women's entrepreneurship in eligible countries. The proposals must be submitted by 4 February 2019 and allocations will be announced in April 2019.
Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa, or AFAWA, was launched at the African Development Bank's Annual Meeting in May 2016 in Lusaka, Zambia. It is a pan-African initiative with an overarching objective of bridging the finance gap for women in Africa and unlocking their entrepreneurial capacity. AFAWA adopts a holistic approach through three pillars: strengthening access to financing for women-owned and -led businesses, building the capacity of women entrepreneurs and financial institutions, and engaging dialogue with African governments to support legal, policy and regulatory reforms that improve business-enabling environments to accelerate women's entrepreneurship.