[East Africa Business Week] Bob Koigi: Investing in women-led businesses
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for an estimated 90% of all businesses in Africa and women own about a third of all registered African SMEs.
One-in-four (25.9%) of adult women in Africa start or manage a business. However, women have not enjoyed equal access to high quality, demand driven financial services and it is estimated that women-owned SMEs face a US$42 billion financing gap, making lack of access to financing a common constraint to their business growth. Alive to this fact, governments, private sector and development partners are investing in women businesses through financial support and value-added solutions to help them reach their full potential and succeed.
Ecobank Kenya Limited, part of the pan-African Ecobank Group, this week launched its flagship Women’s Programme ‘Ellevate’ to empower and support women-led businesses.
The programme will offer comprehensive, customised and tailormade solutions which include favourable lending rates, smart cash management enablement and a suite of value-added services such as leadership training, mentoring and networking opportunities. Ecobank Commercial Bank is allocating a minimum of 10% of its loan portfolio to women’s businesses.
At the same time, Standard Chartered in collaboration with @iLabAfrica-Strathmore University has launched a mentorship program targeting women in any field with junior-level experience (2-3 years) seeking an entry into careers in Cybersecurity. This follows in-depth research and industry consultations that highlighted a wide skills and gender gap in the cybersecurity space.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)Secretariat, under the auspices of the United Republic of Tanzania hosted the Inaugural AfCFTA Conference on Women and Youth in Trade in Dar es Salaam.
The three-day conference pulled together top leaders from different African countries, including incumbent and former presidents and vice presidents.
The theme for the conference is: “Women and Youth: The Engine of AfCFTA Trade in Africa’.
East African countries continue to attract investment across various sectors.
Sabre Corporation, SABR, a software and technology provider that powers the global travel industry, has announced a new, long-term strategic agreement with Nairobi-based travel technology distribution company SABRON Tech Ltd to boost its presence across key markets in East Africa.
Under the agreement, SABRON is now licensed to represent and distribute the Sabre brand to travel agencies in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
Cerba Lancet Africa, a benchmark in the field of medical diagnosis in Africa, has announced it has signed a strategic partnership with International Clinical Laboratories (ICL) Ethiopia, a private clinical pathology laboratory in the country serving more than 3 million patients over the past 17 years.
At the same time, ClimeCo, a pioneer in the management and development of environmental commodities, has partnered with Enaleia to remove plastic pollution from vital fishing areas in Kenya.
This partnership will support Enaleia's newest project in Kenya, contributing to the generation of plastic credits through Verra.
Agribusiness Development Centre powered by dfcu limited and Rabo foundation this week launched a Business Accelerator Program (BAP) in Uganda. It will attract Agribusinesses getting out of ideation phase and offer them a business acceleration opportunity which should enable these enterprises to attract markets and funding for growth and sustainability of their operations.
Elsewhere, The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) recently spearheaded the establishment of the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Business Council to facilitate the participation of the private sector in the implementation of the corridor programme.
Under the name LAPSSET Business Council, the Council brings together representatives from the private sectors of Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan.
Finally The Rwanda Film Office has initiated a call for projects with a total budget of 184 million RWF to support filmmakers at various stages of production, from writing to post-production. This pilot project is a milestone in the structuration process of the audiovisual sector in Rwanda. It has been made possible with the support of Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) and ACP-EU.
Bob Koigi is the East African Region Editor at Africa Business Communities
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