AFAWA Finance Series in Kenya Advocates for Gender-Inclusive Financial Services

African Development Bank and partners urge tailored financial services for women-led enterprises, aiming to close gender financing gap.

The call for greater gender-inclusivity highlighted the opening day of the AFAWA Finance Series Kenya, which drew an audience of senior Kenyan government, Chief Executive Officers of major financial institutions, women entrepreneurs, and business leaders in Nairobi, on Tuesday 21 November.

The African Development Bank and the African Guarantee Fund (AGF), in collaboration with the government of Kenya, challenged the high-level stakeholders from the public and private sectors in Kenya and financial institutions, to recognize that support for extending more financial services to women-led enterprises, is good for business and economies.

Financial products need to be tailored to women’s unique lived experiences, needs and aspirations from the start not later when at scale.

Financial institutions face a major challenge in understanding and responding to the unique needs of the women entrepreneurs. We need innovative approaches to improve women’s creditworthiness as traditional collateral requirements only serve to reinforce gender inequalities,” she added.

Ann Waiguru, Chair of the Council of Governors in Kenya and the Chief Speaker at the Finance Series Kenya Opening Ceremony

The AFAWA Finance Series Kenya, part of the African Development Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) initiative, offers an overview of AFAWA’s partnership services for the Kenyan market. The 3-day gathering sensitizes policymakers and financial leaders about how opening the financial landscape to women entrepreneurs can contribute to Kenya’s economic development.

Kenyan women are known for their resilience and tenacity.

The AFAWA Finance Series is a celebration of our commitment to creating an environment where Kenyan women can access essential financial tools for enterprise and development. 

Harriette Chiggai, Women’s Rights Advisor to the President of Kenya

The AFAWA Finance Series Kenya explores ways to enhance regulatory frameworks that can boost access to finance for women-led small and medium enterprises. The event will also build understanding of AFAWA’s Guarantee for Growth mechanism and how the program can help de-risk financial institutions that on-lend to women-led start-ups.

Too many women entrepreneurs across the continent are denied opportunities to grow their businesses.  We’re here today to help challenge common misperceptions and emphasize that there’s business to be had in offering financial services to women-led enterprises. AFAWA understands the challenges women face and the initiative is addressing them head on.

Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbade, Vice President for Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery, African Development Bank Group

The AFAWA Guarantee for Growth program also offers assistance and incentives to financial institutions to increase their appetite to lend to women-led SMEs. Research shows women are better at repaying loans than men, and typically reinvest up to 90% of their income in the education, health and nutrition of their families and communities.

The question we are addressing is how to support women and increase their productivity to fully participate in the GDP of the African economy.

Through the AFAWA Guarantee for Growth program, we are de-risking financial institutions that on-lend to women-led SMEs – increasing their appetite for this target market.

Jules Ngankam, CEO, African Guarantee Fund

Roberto Natali, Ambassador of Italy to Kenya and Caroline Vicini, Ambassador of Sweden represented AFAWA donor nations in their remarks at the opening ceremony.

This sixth country edition of the AFAWA Finance Series contributes to AFAWA’s mission to reduce the estimated $42 billion financing gap Africa’s women-led, small and medium enterprises face, compared to those led by men.

As of August 2023, AFAWA has approved investments worth more than $1.2 billion of credit for women-led small and medium enterprises. These investments have a footprint in 32 African countries and through 96 financial institutions. In Kenya, AFAWA’s partnership with the African Guarantee Fund has seen 15 financial institutions in Kenya sign up for the risk sharing agreement. As a result, 925 women-led enterprises have had access to finance through these financial institutions.

Previous AFAWA Finance Series, have been held in Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola.

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