By Chinwendu Obienyi
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has revealed that over $1 billion has been approved as loans to women entrepreneurs since the inception of its Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) initiative.
Its President, Akinwumi Adesina, made this known during the International Women’s Day (IWD) Conference organised by Access Bank Plc in Lagos on Thursday. Whilst stating that there exist an in-built gender based biases against women in terms of access to finance, Adesina said women in Africa continue to face a $42 billion financing gap in Africa and called on all financial institutions in Africa and globally to have well designed programmes and lending instruments for women.
He revealed that the bank has been taking bold steps to rectify this phenomenon and added that the biases spurred the AfDB to launch its AFAWA initiative to bridge the financing gap and unleash the full potential of women in their businesses.
“Since then, we have approved well over $1 billion worth of loans to women. We have established strategic partnerships for AFAWA with 56 financial institutions in 20 countries all across the continent including Nigeria. As Africa’s premier financial institution, we are committed to empowering women and closing the gender gap in African countries”,Adesina said.
According to him, “When women thrive, economies thrive and that is because women form the backbone of Africa’s economies. The continent has a large percentage of women. In many countries, women are more responsible, especially in the area of agricultural production. Women who own businesses are on the rise across the continent, contributing significantly to job creation and economic growth. In fact 9 out of 10 women pay back their loans, a truly extraordinary number and this shows that women are bankable”.
The AfDB President noted that the bank is promoting gender diversity and is determined to achieve gender parity across its workforce in the near term. “Currently the distribution is 39.5 per cent of women and 60.5 per cent for men. Our board is clear, attain full gender parity at the bank by 2028. We are making significant progress already as 50 per cent of my executive team is made up of women and professionals now entering the bank are made up of women. By taking corporate action, we embrace equity and build a better and more inclusive future.
By investing in women, one will get a ripple effect that will positively impact the continent. Once women have access to education, opportunities exist for them and can link them to a just, prosperous nation where everyone can thrive”, he explained.