African countries lose about $95 billion every year in lost productivity due to failure of national economies to integrate gender equality and women’s empowerment into national economies, according to the ECA’s Women’s Report 2013.
Speaking at an event to discuss the African Women Leadership Fund (AWLF) in Marrakech, Morocco, ahead of the fifth Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD), the Deputy Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Giovanie Biha said, “This is an indicator that financial exclusion of women is not an option for our continent.”
She said, the African Women Leadership Fund was an impact fund that aims to strengthen economic empowerment of women and accelerate the emergence of African women fund managers who in turn will invest in and develop African women-led businesses and micro-businesses.
Ms Biha emphasized that, empowering women to access finance in Africa is critical if the continent is to attain the sustainable development goals.
She explained that, adopting the right actions to integrate gender in Africa’s economies will result in financial inclusion, guarantee women’s economic empowerment and achievement of the SDGs, thereby helping change the face of the continent.
Over the next decade the fund is expected to invest up to $500 million in African owned and women-led companies.
The fund is anchored on six pillars, the ECA says. They are Providing African women entrepreneurs access to sustainable capital, Providing African cooperatives access to sustainable capital, Lowering barriers to entry for capable women asset managers focused on investing in women-owned and women-led companies, Providing technical assistance to accelerate the fund management learning curve and supporting growth and expansion, Providing seed capital to develop a track record and accelerate fundraising and scale and Focus on sustainability and scalability of the platform
The ECA is supporting the operationalization of the innovative fund, a brainchild of the United Nations Deputy Secretary General, Amina J. Mohammed, African Union Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat and the AWLN.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the Moroccan business and financial ecosystem, government officials, senior women executives and young women entrepreneurs, among others.
By: Asabea Akonor