$4 million to strengthen women's financial inclusion

A $4 million program to increase the financial inclusion of African small and medium enterprises run by women was presented recently in Washington.

Morocco was cited among “the pilot countries” given their “most progressive policies to accelerate financial inclusion”. Led by the African Development Bank (AfDB) Initiative to Promote Women’s Access to Finance in Africa (AFAWA) and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion, this partnership was submitted to African Ministers of Finance and to the governors of the continent’s central banks, meeting on the occasion of the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

It is intended, according to a press release, to help policymakers, regulators and other stakeholders develop policies that promote financial inclusion and benefit small and medium enterprises run by African women. “We hope, through this project, to obtain better data for policy-making and an improvement in the technical capacities of decision-makers at institutional, national and regional levels.

These efforts will help develop financial policies and establish a favorable regulatory environment for women’s entrepreneurship in Africa,” said AfDB Senior Vice President Swazi Tshabalala.

According to a study by McKinsey, Africa stands to lose an estimated $316 billion in GDP by 2025 if women do not have access to finance. However, evidence-based support and technical assistance from partner institutions could help African governments create an enabling environment.

Last year, the AfDB, through the AFAWA-Alliance for Financial Inclusion partnership, identified countries with the “most progressive policies to accelerate financial inclusion”.

In addition to Morocco, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Zambia and Zimbabwe have been designated as pilot countries based on several criteria: having made significant progress towards the financial inclusion of small and medium-sized enterprises run by women; have best practices to inform the financial inclusion harmonization process and provide policy guidance to accelerate targeted access to finance.

The International Monetary Fund, which recently launched its first strategy on gender equality, indicated that statistical research and collaboration will enable the new partnership to achieve its objectives, specify the initiators of this partnership.

“We recognize that reducing gender disparities, particularly in access to finance, leads to exponential economic growth. We encourage all countries to publish sex-disaggregated data and find synergies with new emerging sectors,” said Ratna Sahay, IMF Senior Advisor on Gender.

According to the statement, the Initiative to Promote Women’s Access to Finance in Africa and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion will implement the joint program in 35 countries represented by member institutions of the Economic and Monetary Union of Africa. Central Africa, the West African Economic and Monetary Union and the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa.

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