French President Emmanuel Macron and G7 leaders on Sunday approved a package of $251 million in support of the African Development Bank’s AFAWA initiative to support women entrepreneurs in Africa.
Macron at a press conference at the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France stated that he is particularly proud, as the current G7 president, and the programme they are supporting.
It is a direct response to the demand by women to ease access to financing, specifically on the need to establish a financing mechanism for women’s economic empowerment, adopted during a summit of African heads of state in 2015 and assigned to the African Development Bank for implementation.
“African women are the backbone of the continent. I’m thrilled to bring their voice to the G7. AFAWA is essential for our continent,” said Beninese artist Angelique Kidjo, a guest at the press conference in her role as programme ambassador.
The Bank’s president Akinwumi Adesina applauded the “extraordinary support of all the G7 heads of state and government, which will provide incredible momentum” to the AFAWA programme.
“This is a great day for African women, investing in women entrepreneurs in Africa is important, because women are not only Africa’s future, they are Africa’s present,” Adesina said.
He added that currently, women operate over 40% of SMEs in Africa, but there is a financing gap of $42 billion between male and female entrepreneurs. A gap that must be closed quickly.
AFAWA aims to raise up to $5 billion for African women entrepreneurs and the African Development Bank will provide $1 billion financing. “This financing effort for women is the most significant in the continent’s history,” Adesina noted.
The AFAWA initiative, backed by the G7 nations, is based on three fundamental principles. The first is to improve women’s access to financing through innovative and adapted financial instruments, including guarantee mechanisms to support women entrepreneurs.
France holds the presidency of the G7 in 2019, and President Emmanuel Macron is championing gender equality as a major theme of his five-year term.