Business and Economy

AFAWA grants $1.8m to boost entrepreneurship skills for women

A $1.8 million technical support deal was struck by the Export Trading Group and the African Development Bank Group’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) to enhance women’s entrepreneurial abilities in four nations.

At a signing ceremony on Tuesday, December 5, outside the United Nations’ climate summit, COP 28, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, leaders from both organizations participated. Women entrepreneurs and employees of Export Trading Group, as well as women-led small and medium-sized businesses and cooperatives, will benefit from the award for the project “Strengthening the Entrepreneurship Skills of Women Owned & Led Businesses and Women Employees.” The initiative will be implemented in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Mozambique.

Over a four-year period, the project seeks to integrate up to 3,600 women and women-led or owned firms into Export Trading Group’s worldwide supply chain. With operations in 40 countries, ETG is a multinational corporation that is well-known for being a rapidly expanding, vertically integrated agricultural supply chain business in sub-Saharan Africa. AFAWA is a pan-African project that assists in closing the $42 billion funding disparity that exists between female and male entrepreneurs in Africa.

According to Dr. Beth Dunford, Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development at the African Development Bank, “integrating women in the Export Trading Group value chain will go a long way in bridging gender parity by providing equitable access to climate-resilient [and climate-] smart agriculture skills and creating a rural infrastructure that supports all facets of women’s engagement in agricultural markets.”

“This will have a major impact on the four countries’ economic growth and food security,” she continued. As part of the technical support, female employees will receive training on how to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset and will have easier access to funding and networking opportunities. From production to consumption, a sizable share of Africa’s agricultural labor force is comprised of women. Additionally, 70–80% of purchases are made by women. The Women Entrepreneurs Finance project (WeFi), a component of the AFAWA project, is managed by the bank and provides funding for the grant.

“We are honored to collaborate on the AFAWA project with the Bank. A fundamental component of our business approach is enabling local economies and communities to flourish via the empowerment of women entrepreneurs throughout Africa. We’re moving closer to our objectives with this collaboration, and it’s crucial that we find the right partners for this trip.” said ETG’s Chief Treasury Officer, Mr. Paul Van Spaendok.

The project will also involve the Farmers Foundation of Export Trading Group, which will offer smallholder farmers extension services and training in fundamental business management and sustainable farming techniques.

“Although there are more women entrepreneurs in the region than anywhere else, they nonetheless face challenges in their efforts to make a living. According to Kamini Menon, CEO of the Export Trading Group Farmers Foundation, “bringing public and private sector efforts into harmony is a necessary step to enable women employees, entrepreneurs, and businesses along agricultural value chains to battle existing constraints and be given a fair chance to flourish.”

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