A New Initiative for Women's Empowerment

The African Development Bank has embarked on a groundbreaking project aimed at mapping 160 women entrepreneurs' associations across 16 African countries. This initiative underscores the Bank's commitment to supporting African women entrepreneurs, promoting women's economic empowerment, and fostering inclusive growth on the continent.

Objectives and Support

The mapping project, backed by the Bank Group’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) initiative and Gender Equality Trust Fund (GETF), seeks to enhance the visibility of these associations, bolster their institutional capacities, and improve their access to financing.

Official Launch and Participants

The project was officially launched by the Bank’s Vice-President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Beth Dunford, during a ceremony in Abidjan. The event was attended by representatives from various associations, umbrella organizations, and coalitions of women entrepreneurs, with around two hundred participants joining virtually.

Commitment to Inclusivity and Accountability

Beth Dunford highlighted the Bank's dedication to inclusivity, transparency, and accountability. “The African Development Bank’s Action Plan for Engaging with Civil Society 2024-2028 illustrates our commitment to inclusivity, transparency and accountability,” she stated in her opening remarks.

Fostering Collaboration and Networking

Zeneb Touré, head of the Civil Society and Community Engagement Division at the Bank, emphasized the project's role in promoting collaboration and networking. “Associations of women entrepreneurs are catalysts for reforms and innovations that support female entrepreneurship and facilitate women’s access to the economic resources they need to realize their full potential,” she said.

Empowering Women-Led SMEs

Ms. Dagou Yvonne Nivine Gadji, representing the SEPHIS Foundation, highlighted the importance of the associations identified for the mapping project. She noted that these associations would act as “catalysts for reforms, a boost to women’s empowerment and a crucible for building the capacity of several other networks of women entrepreneurs.”

Addressing Funding Challenges

Jacqueline Tientcheu, President of the Federation of Women Entrepreneurs Organizations in Central Africa (FOF-AC), spoke about the critical issue of access to funding. She pointed out the difficulties women face in securing financing due to a lack of guarantees and high-interest rates from microfinance organizations. “We think that the AFAWA programme, through the Gender Equality Trust Fund (GETF), can help us,” she stated.

A Step Towards Inclusive Growth

The African Development Bank's initiative to map women entrepreneurs' associations is a significant step towards inclusive growth and economic empowerment for women across Africa. By enhancing visibility, improving capacities, and facilitating access to financing, this project aims to create a supportive environment for women entrepreneurs to thrive and contribute to the continent's economic development.