The Africa Guarantee Bank (AGF) in its 6th AFAWA Finance Series happening in Kenya has committed to supporting small and medium enterprises owned and supported by women within and without Kenya to grow them economically.
During the first day of the AFAWA Finance Series attended by both political and business leaders including Anne Waiguru, Chair of the Council of Governors, Gladys Wanga, Governor for Homa Bay, and Dr. James Mwangi, the CEO of Equity Bank, AGF reiterated the immense contribution of women to the economy.
“African women have the highest participation in any economic activity in the world. They are always active in various economic activities, trying to make ends meet. But there is bad news; they have the lowest contribution to the GDP,” said the CEO of Africa Guarantee Fund, Jules Ngankam.
According to Jules, despite being the majority in any economic activity, the fact that the majority of them are in the informal sector makes it difficult for them to immensely impact the GDP and access credit from mainstream financial institutions.
“How can we support women to increase their productivity so that they can participate fully in the GDP of the African economy? What is more, there is no doubt that in Africa, we have the highest participation of women in Agriculture. How can we support them?” he added.
At least 75 percent of workers in the agricultural sector in Kenya are women. But unfortunately, only 3 percent of women in Africa are owners of agricultural land. Even though 24 percent of the same women own their businesses, only 5 percent can receive a loan from a bank.
“Imagine if we bridged that gap… Give women loans, and empower women to own land… What can we do to empower these women so that they also have collateral? This is the call of AFAWA; supporting women when it comes to access to loans, and land, and empowering them to support the economy,” he said.
There is no doubt that AGF’s impact on Africa is evident in the numerous success stories of SMEs that have benefited from its credit guarantees. Across the continent, AGF has supported over 30,000 small businesses across 40 countries through 200 PFIs.
Beyond its risk-sharing mechanism that increases financing of SMEs, AGF also provides Capacity Development assistance to its Partner Financial Institutions and the beneficiary SMEs.
This enables the lenders to address technical gaps and thereby bring their SME portfolio to scale. Beneficiary SMEs are also supported through pieces of training by Business Development Service providers.