AFI has announced a four-year partnership with the African Development Bank, aimed at supporting financial policymakers and regulators to increase access to finance for women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (WSMEs) in Africa. The partnership was announced at AFI’s African Financial Inclusion Policy Initiative Leaders’ Roundtable, in the presence of high-level representatives of AFI members from across the African continent.
“Africa has the highest percentage of women entrepreneurs in the world, yet women SMEs in Africa have the lowest rates of access to finance to grow their businesses,” said AFI Executive Director, Dr Alfred Hannig. “This new partnership with the African Development Bank will help financial policy makers and regulators to design innovative and practical responses to close this financing gap, and advance us considerably towards achieving financial inclusion for all.”
“We are thrilled to launch this new chapter in our long-standing relationship with AFI,” said Malado Kaba, the Bank’s Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society. “Over the next four years, we aim to 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 will be implemented through the Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) initiative, and represents a new chapter in AFI’s longstanding relationship with the African Development Bank. It builds on previous research in seven African countries, which highlighted the barriers faced by women entrepreneurs when seeking access to finance, including the high cost of financial services and a lack of financial education.
Research will now be carried out in 13 additional countries to identify policies and regulations which could help close this finance gap. AFAWA and AFI will then work with policymakers, financial regulators, and other key stakeholders across all 20 countries, to help them design and implement reforms.