French President Emmanuel Macron and G7 leaders at the G7 summit approved a package totaling $251 million in support of the African Development Bank’s Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) initiative to support women entrepreneurs in Africa.
President Macron who is the President of G7 and noted for championing gender equality, disclosed the package during a press conference at the G7 summit at the weekend in Biarritz, France.
“I am particularly proud, as the current G7 president, that the programme we are supporting today, the AFAWA initiative, comes from an African organisation, the African Development Bank, which works with African guarantee funds and a network of African banks,” he said.
The risk-sharing mechanism used by AFAWA (Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa) is a practical approach to international commitments. It is a direct response to the demand by women to ease access to financing, specifically on the need to establish a financing mechanism for women’s economic empowerment, adopted during a summit of African heads of state in 2015 and assigned to the African Development Bank for implementation.
“African women are the backbone of the continent. I’m thrilled to bring their voice to the G7. AFAWA is essential for our continent,” said Beninese artist Angelique Kidjo, a guest at the press conference in her role as programme ambassador.
The Bank’s president Akinwumi Adesina applauded the “extraordinary support of all the G7 heads of state and government, which will provide incredible momentum” to the AFAWA programme.
“This is a great day for African women,” Adesina said. “Investing in women entrepreneurs in Africa is important, because women are not only Africa’s future, they are Africa’s present”.
“Currently, women operate over 40% of SMEs in Africa, but there is a financing gap of $42 billion between male and female entrepreneurs. This gap must be closed, and quickly,” he added.
AFAWA aims to raise up to $5 billion for African women entrepreneurs and the African Development Bank will provide $1 billion financing. “This financing effort for women is the most significant in the continent’s history,” Adesina noted.
The AFAWA initiative, backed by the G7 nations, is based on three fundamental principles. The first is to improve women’s access to financing through innovative and adapted financial instruments, including guarantee mechanisms to support women entrepreneurs.
In cooperation with strategic partners, the second principle is to provide capacity-building services to women entrepreneurs, including access to mentoring and training courses in entrepreneurship. AFAWA also assists financial institutions in responding to specific needs of women-led businesses through specially adapted financial and non-financial products.
The third principle is improving the legal and regulatory environment, eliminating obstacles that specifically affect women by engaging in policy dialogue with governments, central banks, and other institutions.
AFAWA aims to raise up to $5 billion for African women entrepreneurs and the African Development Bank will provide $1 billion financing.
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