The African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Gender Equality Trust Fund will provide a $950,000 grant to the Africa Small and Medium Enterprise Business Linkages Program in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger.
The grant, which will supplement an earlier $3.9 million financing grant from the Bank’s Transition Support Facility, is expected to bolster 1,400 women-led enterprises and contribute to the region’s economic resilience and social cohesion.
The Gender Equality Trust Fund supports the delivery and scaling of the bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa, or AFAWA, program. AFAWA aims to close the $42 billion gender financing gap for women-led African enterprises by promoting gender-transformative lending and non-lending operations.
“We are excited to extend the impact of the program that will reach more than a thousand women entrepreneurs across the Sahel region,” said Malado Kaba, the Bank’s Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society. “We believe one key to building resilient African societies is the inclusion of women in economic development. The program’s wide range of business-related training and coaching – in addition to increasing access to finance – will go a long way toward reaching that goal,” she added.
Women entrepreneurs in the Sahel region face significant barriers to accessing finance, markets, and business development services. The Africa Small and Medium Enterprise Business Linkages Program will provide women entrepreneurs with the tools and resources they need to overcome these barriers and grow their businesses. It will also help increase productivity and employment opportunities, especially for young women and men, including offering capacity building in entrepreneurship, core business functions and management training.
The bank’s Gender, Women and Civil Society Department conducted three studies and consulted with Sahel region chambers of commerce to identify women-led businesses to participate in the program. The bank also supports national statistics offices to build more robust, gender-responsive data, which helps measure program impact.
The G5 Sahel Union of Chambers of Commerce will administer the program in collaboration with financial institutions and intermediaries to directly support access to finance for local, small and medium enterprises.
The Africa Small and Medium Enterprise Business Linkages Program aligns with the African Development Bank’s 2021-2024 Private Sector Development Strategy, its 2021-2025 Gender Strategy and the 2022-2026 strategy for addressing fragility and building resilience in Africa.
The Bank Group’s Board of Directors approved the grant on 23 March 2023.