Cameroon: ADF Supports Women Enterprises

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Board Approves 10 Million Euros Partial Loan Guarantee facility

Tunis, 4 December 2006 – The Board of Directors of the African Development Fund (ADF), the concessional window of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group on Monday in Tunis, approved a partial guarantee of 10 million Euros loan in support of growth-oriented women enterprises development programme (GOWE) in Cameroon.

The programme aims at encouraging and facilitating access to financing for women’s enterprises, strengthening the management skills of women entrepreneurs as well as improving business skills of members of the associations of women entrepreneurs. It also targets service providers and support institutions for very small enterprises (VSE) and SMEs to enhance their ability to provide appropriate services such as encouraging commercial banks to develop appropriate financial instruments for VSE/SMEs, providing them with a credit-scoring tool and raising the awareness of their customers in good business ethics.

Overall, the programme seeks to provide an enabling environment for women’s enterprises by helping them grow and finance their businesses thereby contributing to a more favourable business climate and more equitable access to business opportunities in ways that enhance their contribution to economic development.

GOWE Cameroon is the second of 3 pilot programmes developed after the GOWE Kenya programme. An evaluation of the pilot phase will be undertaken with a view to replicating the guarantee facility in other African countries based on their specific and identified needs. This will lead to the development in the long term, of "SMEs Guarantee" financial product. GOWE Cameroon draws on the acquired and ongoing experience of the GOWE Kenya programme, particularly in the structuring and development of guarantee management tools as well as training equipment and teaching aids.

The programme also reflects the building and strengthening of strategic partnership with other financing and development institutions notably, the French Development Agency (AFD), IFC and ILO. The objective of this partnership is fourfold: i) to limit risks for the Bank, ii) to take advantage of their know-how iii) avoid duplication of efforts, and iv) to use existing resources more effectively

Generally, women in Cameroon are organized in groups and cooperatives. The development of female entrepreneurship in the country has, however, been impeded not only by limited access to financing, notably due to difficulty in meeting guarantee requirements, but also by the lack of appropriate instruments in the financial market.

Project Brief

  • The role of Cameroonian women in the country’s economy cannot be overemphasized:
    Cameroonian women account for 40 % to 42% of the working population (28% of whom are in the urban areas) ;
  • 96% of informal sector entrepreneurs are in agriculture, food production and transportation of foodstuffs;
    85 % of jobs are in the agriculture sector;
  • 3.2% of individual enterprises, except agriculture, are run by women;
  • Women’s enterprises are organized in associations with representation in each of the ten (10) provinces of the country.

* 1 UA = 1.50773 US$ = 749.247CFAF  as at 04/12/2006

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