AfDB and New Faces, New Voices urge African Women to become more active players

10/06/2011
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Financial institutions and regulators should think of African women as an emerging market and should include them in the reshaping of the post-crisis financial system.

This was the main conclusion of a debate co-organized by the African Development Ban (AfDB) and women’s network New Faces, New Voices (NFNV) on 10 June 2011 at the AfDB’s Annual Meetings in Lisbon, Portugal.

AfDB’s Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Nkosana Moyo, stressed that “to be successful in the private sector and have inclusive growth, we have to include women in the whole process”.

NFNV, a network of professional women in business and finance across Africa, led by Graça Machel, counts AfDB as one of its main partners.

The AfDB is providing resources to African women and building capacity through innovative approaches. It wants to motivate financial institutions and micro-finance institutions to invest in women through equity, debt, loan guarantee support and capacity building.

Mr Moyo underlined that ‘building a better society depends on our choices”, adding that ‘choices have also to count with women’s inclusion in the decision taking.”

A NFNV Executive Director of New Faces, Ms. Anne-Marie Chidzero, addressed the audience on behalf of Ms. Graça Machel, ‘who regretted to have to cancel her planned attendance”.

The AfDB’s Resident Representative in Dakar, Ms Leila Mokadem, explained that “the AfDB supports the economic empowerment of African women and New Faces, New Voices”,   adding that “the Bank Group’s Medium-Term Strategy 2008–2012 advocates increased selectivity at sector level”.

She added that: “the AfDB calls for a more robust private sector and for mainstreaming ender, in all of the group’s operations, and is thereby advancing the financial-inclusion agenda and economically empowering women”.

The Governor of the Bank of Zambia, Mr Caleb Fudanga, remarked that businesses run by women, or corporations with a higher number of women executives, perform better”.

Another NFNV Executive Director, Ms. Nomsa Daniels, said there was a lack of data the institutions and organizations could use “to identify what instruments are available to women in the financial system”.

However, she did refer to a study that found that, of all African women who are entrepreneurs, about 69 percent owned informal business, 21 percent formal micro-businesses and only 10 percent owned formal small or medium-sized enterprises.

The majority of money borrowed by African women for business comes through NGOs, rural banks and non-bank institutions.

Ms. Nomsa Daniels reminded that women are still facing many constraints when applying to credit due to the lack of property rights and or skills.

AfDB expects to make approvals up to UA 1 billion (US$ 1.5 billion) for women’s projects, with Middle Income Countries taking the largest share (49.5 percent),  Regional LICs (30.4 percent), Low Income Countries (19.7 percent) and Fragile States (0.36 percent).

By 2018, the AfDB expects to help create 94,000 direct jobs for women, of which more than 2,350 would be in SMEs, Ms Leila Mokadem said.  She added that the Pan-African Guarantee Fund will give support to 20 to 30 percent of female-owned SMEs, starting in nine countries.

The Chief Executive of the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (PTA), Mr. Alex Gitari, remarked that “women are better borrowers and banks can not forget this important segment of the market”.

The representative of the Nigeria Bank of Industry, Ms Evelyn Oputu, noted that 70 percent of Nigerian women are poor and that there was a need to create a cluster to deal with this question.

She added that ‘there is a need to raise sensitivity to implement a change across society, so that it becomes easier to women entrepreneurs to get easy access to credit”.

The Honorary President of the World Association of Women Entrepreneurs, Françoise Foninge, urged African women to have more initiative, remarking that they are as capable as women entrepreneurs in the developed countries.

She congratulated the President of the African Development Bank, Mr Donald Kaberuka, for strengthening the AfDB’s inclusive.


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