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The African Development Bank's (AfDB's) Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) initiative has reached a US$1bn landmark in approved funding targeted towards African women entrepreneurs

52652072304 c123bbb8c4 oAfDB vice president Beth Dunford announces AFAWA’s US$1bn milestone at the Dakar 2 Africa Food Summit held from 25-27 January 2023. (Image source: AfDB)

Although a large majority of Africa's agriculture sector's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are run by women, an estimated US$42mn gender gap still exists. Through the AFAWA investment, the initiative has been working to address these financial barriers by boosting the professional and financial capabilities of more than 200 women cooperatives in the staple food crop sector in Cote d'lvoire. As part of the initiative, women producers are offered access and training to a digital platform, allowing them to connect with buyers across Cote d'lvoire such as wholesalers, retailers and consumers.

In an AfDB report, director of the Bank’s Gender, Women and Civil Society Department, Malado Kaba mentioned that a total of 4,115 women businesses had already benefitted from the AFAWA financing, emphasising that this was only the beginning. She highlighted that US$135mn out of the US$1.051bn AFAWA-approved lending was targeted entirely towards women in the agricultural sector. Furthermore, AFAWA is also working with Ecobank on the 'Financing Climate Resilient Agricultural Practices in Ghana' project to provide financing and technical support to 400 women-led, farmer-based associations and women-owned small and medium enterprises, to help foster their agriculture productivity and strengthen their climate resilience practices. 

“In 2023, we will continue to work closely with our partners to accelerate their ability to lend to women-led micro and small enterprises," said Kaba. "Ensuring that the enabling environment is inclusive to enhance women’s ability to access financing will be critical. Thus, we will work closely with policymakers to ensure that the right reforms are in place to accelerate women-led small and medium enterprises’ financial access."