Adesina: Women in Africa Face $42bn Financing Gap

*Access Bank disbursed N40.5bn to women-led businesses, targets N100bn in 2023

Nume Ekeghe

The President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has stated that the continent has a $42 financing gap for women and has advised financial institutions across Africa to work towards bridging the gap.
He stated that there was need for banks to create tailored products to cater for the needs of women that would de-risk financing to women and women-led businesses and has urged banks to ensure they end more to women.

Adesina disclosed this at Access Bank’s International Women’s Day Conference in Lagos yesterday.
This was just as Access Bank has revealed that in its bid to promote access to finance for women-led businesses, it disbursed N40.5 billion in 2022 to women-led businesses through its W’ initiative product. The bank also stated that it was targeting to make available and disburse over N100 billion to women-led businesses.
Speaking further, Adesina said: “Women who own businesses are on the rise across the continent, contributing significantly to job creation and economic growth.

In fact, nine out of 10 women pay back their loans, a truly extraordinary number and this shows that women are bankable. It is however bewildering that women in Africa continue to face a $42 billion financing gap in Africa.
“There exists inbuilt gender-based biases against women in terms of access to finance. We always hear from financial institutions that they need guarantees and de-risking instruments to be able to lend more to women.

“I firmly believe that what we are really de-risking is not any high risk of lending to women, but we are simply de-risking gender-based biases on lending to women. All financial institutions in Africa and indeed globally should have well-designed programmes and instruments for lending to women.”
 He added that at the AfDB, they were taking bold steps to rectify the phenomenon.

 He also added that in 2019, the AfDB launched the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) initiative to bridge the financing gap and unleash the full potential of women in their businesses which had disbursed over $1 billion worth of loans to women.
Speaking about how Access Bank was bridging the financing deficit for women and women-led businesses the Group Head, W Initiative, Access Bank, Ms. Abiodun Olubitan, stated that the W’ initiative which was tailored to supporting women gave out N40.5 billion in loans last year and targets to do over N100 billion in 2023.

 She said: “We have given out N40.5 billion to over 64,845 women SMEs in 2022. It was for women in businesses who had 50 per cent or more in the holding of the economy or they could own the business with a man but they have controlling shareholding or they are in the helms of affairs directing the business as that is our criteria of identifying women-owned or women-led businesses.

“This also includes vehicle loans we gave to women to ease their challenges of mobility, especially after COVID-19.
“This year, we are not looking at anything less than N100 billion for women because we want to continue to support and as we see other opportunities to support women we are able to fit into that space and give to them the boost that they need for their businesses.”

On his part, the Managing Director of Access Corporation, Herbert Wigwe, in his opening remarks said: “It has been said that equality is leaving the door open for anyone who has the means to approach it, while equity is ensuring that there is a pathway to that door for those who need it.
“Today we’re moving several more levels in our progress. We are not only embracing the notion of gender equality, and equal opportunities, but we are also celebrating individual differences and the need to adjust our resources, our systems, and approaches to cater to this.”

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