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African Women in Business Initiative

The African Women In Business Initiative (AWIB) responds to the Bank’s Private Sector Development Strategy emphasis on the role of women in business as well as to calls to empower women entrepreneurs, in particular SMEs, through better access to finance.

In this respect, the Private Sector and Microfinance Department (OPSM) has developed under the Initiative, integrated financing programs for women’s entrepreneurship development in order to:

  • contribute to a more equitable business environment for women entrepreneurs and enhance their contribution to economic development;
  • develop SME financing instruments and mechanisms to enhance the financial market and assist successful SMEs to grow their enterprises.

The African Women in Business Initiative has a Plan of Action with the following objectives:

1: Raise awareness among stakeholders and mobilize key players in the field of AWIB promotion.

Under this objective, the AWIB initiative seeks to: 

  • Conduct studies that assess the constraints and conditions for creating an enabling environment and promoting women entrepreneurial development in Africa in order to develop new and innovative approaches to address these constraints. The studies would also propose concrete actionable recommendations that will contribute to the Bank’s efforts to achieve sustainable development, Private Sector Development and Gender mainstreaming objectives.
  • Develop an Integrated Framework for the country’s business environment assessment of growth oriented women enterprises for integration into the Private Sector Country Profiles and country strategy papers. This will help RMC’s Governments to adapt their policies to include specific initiatives to promote SMEs owned by women;
  • Sponsor and organizing relevant seminars and conferences on the topic at national, regional as well as international levels

2: Reinforce the Business Support Provision

In order to ensure that business support services provision is effective, appropriate and accessible to women entrepreneurs who want to either start or grow a business, the program seeks to:

  • strengthen the institutional and technical capacity of the national businesswomen associations / institutions that support the emergence and growth of women-owned SMEs;
  • Improve access to national, regional and international business networks by Women-owned SMEs; and
  • developing the BDS market by equipping  existing private sector BDS providers with appropriate skills, tools and linkages
  • Enhance ICT use and promotion of effective on-line business support and management tools provision.

    In implementing these activities, the program will seek close collaboration and active partnership with existing networks and programs such as FCEM, UNIFEM, national and regional businesswomen associations in Africa, to leverage and build on their achievements.

    3: Develop concrete forms of support to enterprise education and entrepreneurship development 

    AWIB will endeavor to develop and work with initiatives that help to foster a strong entrepreneurial culture, make self-employment attractive and enhance entrepreneurship training at all levels of schooling. Specific measures and actions include:

  • Helping to design the government’s framework for entrepreneurship development programs, with special features for women;
  • Promoting the development of appropriate business structures for women and develop Business Incubators attached to technical schools and universities;
  • Incorporating entrepreneurship development courses in university curricula;
  • Creating a Business Idea Competition – to promote learning, competitiveness and networks creation and reinforcement; and
  • Assessing the feasibility of an African Training Institute Hub for Women Entrepreneurs with the aim to develop a two-way information and knowledge center.


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