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A third round of two-week masterclasses on entrepreneurship, business development and financial management for women entrepreneurs organized by the African Development Bank in partnership with Entreprenarium, kicked off Thursday in Kenya, under the Bank’s flagship Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) program.
Two hundred Kenyan women entrepreneurs, who pre-qualified through an online process, were selected to attend the masterclasses. Entreprenarium specializes in providing business support and access to finance for women and young entrepreneurs across Africa.
The training is part of the Bank’s drive to support over 1,000 women entrepreneurs in Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Kenya, South Africa and Tunisia. In West and Central Africa, training sessions in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire and Libreville, Gabon were held in December 2018, and applications for financing are currently under review to support the most promising projects.”
“This initiative is critical in that it will strengthen women’s entrepreneurship in Africa by unlocking networking, coaching and mentoring opportunities for women-owned or -led small and medium-sized enterprises,” said Gabriel Negatu, the African Development Bank’s Director General for the East Africa region.
The Bank’s Country Gender Note for Kenya, produced in 2017, highlights that Kenya has the highest rate of female participation in enterprise ownership in East Africa, at 48.7 percent. Women own almost half of the 1.3 million micro-small-and medium-size enterprises (MSMEs) in Kenya, with 85 percent of female-owned MSME’s in the informal sector, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. In the agricultural sector, women constitute a major force, managing more than 40 percent of all smallholder farms in the country.
Yet, women entrepreneurs still face major constraints limiting their access to finance, including lack of access to resources and some socio-cultural norms. The main source of capital for businesses remain family or own funds, the statistics Bureau report said.
"Women entrepreneurs in Kenya represent an important part of the country’s business owners, yet most of them are doing it in an informal way. That is why we developed this program which contributes to building their financial autonomy in a sustainable way," remarked Frédéric Ngirabacu, Entreprenarium’s Chief Operating Officer.
In addition to implementing its AFAWA program, the Bank's support for women entrepreneurs includes initiatives such as recognizing the role women play in agriculture, and funding the "50 Million Women Speak" and Fashionomics networking platforms.
Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa, or AFAWA, was launched at the African Development Bank’s Annual Meeting in May 2016 in Lusaka, Zambia. It is a pan-African initiative with an overarching objective of bridging the finance gap for women in Africa and unlocking their entrepreneurial capacity. AFAWA adopts a holistic approach through three pillars: strengthening access to financing for women-owned and women-led businesses, building the capacity of women entrepreneurs and financial institutions, as well as engaging with and supporting African governments to ensure legal, policy and regulatory reforms required to accelerate women’s entrepreneurship.
Entreprenarium is the first pan-African foundation that invests philanthropic capital in the training and financing of women and young entrepreneurs. Entreprenarium designs and carries out programs with the objective of equipping entrepreneurs throughout Africa with the necessary skills, knowledge and resources to succeed in the creation and development of their small and medium-sized enterprises.
Since 2014, over 2,000 entrepreneurs have been trained and US$2.1 million initial capital invested in technical assistance and funding of 52 projects. Special attention is paid to women entrepreneurs through dedicated programs.