A $2-billion scheme to support women-owned small and medium enterprises has been launched by the African Development Bank as part of its Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa.

 

The scheme will operate from banks across the continent with the aim of boosting women entrepreneurs’ access to finance as well as to provide greater technical assistance to SMMEs.

 

Launching the fund, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, said this would create full incentives for women-led businesses to have access to funding. When I interviewed him at an award ceremony earlier this month, he was keen to point out that the emphasis on gender equality and youth will be central themes as he begins his second five-year term of office as president of the bank.

 

He highlighted the fact that 60% of Africans are under 25 years old and that this should not be seen as a problem, but as a great opportunity for the continent.

 

“Women already run Africa anyway,” said Adesina. “We all know that although we often forget It. Now we want to create full incentives for women’s businesses to succeed”.

 

Dr Adesina also announced plans to set up a branch of the Development Bank devoted exclusively to young people. The Youth Enterprise Investment Bank will be launched this year and aims to ensure that Africa’s youth have equity and technical assistance for their businesses/

 

“Our youth are not the future of Africa, they are the present of Africa. We have to put the capital of Africa at risk for the youth. I want to create a visible financial system for them so they can turn their ideas into great businesses. We are going to put our resources into taking the risks to unlock a new type of ecosystem built around African youth,” said Adesina.

 

“They need serious investment to unlock their entrepreneurship, to put their skills to work, to create jobs. How we invest in them today will determine the economic trajectory of our continent. I’m optimistic about Africa’s recovery. Our best years are ahead of us.”

How we invest in the youth today will determine the economic trajectory of our continent. I’m optimistic about Africa’s recovery. Our best years are ahead of us.”

 

By Peter Burdin

Peter Burdin
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