The African Development Bank (AfDB) has said it would provide 500 million dollars of lending to women-empowered businesses by the end of 2021, through its programme for women.
President of the AfDB, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, said this in a virtual media briefing at the end of the 2021 Annual Meetings of the bank on Friday.
Adesina said the bank would use its resources for the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) guaranteed fund to lend to women businesses.
The AfDB president added that the COVID-19 pandemic had affected women more disproportionately because the majority affected by the lockdown were in the informal sector.
He also recalled that AFAWA was an initiative to mobilise five billion US dollars in new financing in support of women businesses in Africa.
“Therefore, the recovery process must prioritise inclusiveness for women in terms of access to finance.
“We expect, from the bank’s resources for the AFAWA guaranteed fund, we would be able to have provided lending of 500 million dollars, that is half a billion dollars to women-empowered businesses by the end of this year.”
He also stressed that the bank had zero tolerance for serial exploitation and harassment of women, adding that Africa must make sure its women were safe, had equity and empowered.
“We also have to invest in girls’ education. We must make sure that girls are not married out at very young ages.
“We should leave the young girls to go to school, to have the opportunity to have participation in a world where they can create opportunities for themselves.”
Adesina further noted that the bank was focused on making sure all projects impacted women and girls and also urged governments to be accountable for African women.
“Africa will move better, faster and have more inclusive growth when it fully empowers all its women and that is a responsibility we have,” he said.
Contributing, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, Ghana’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said there was the need for a reassessment of gender policies.
Ofori-Atta, who is also the Chairman of the bank’s Board of Governors, said: “We know that when we look at our traditional production, distribution, market and systems in taking care of the future, it is the women that do it.
“We as finance ministers, as we examine our resources, would have to profile it a lot better than we have in the past to ensure the issues of education, health and financial resources are also programmed to support them.”
The 2021 Annual Meetings of the AfDB Group held from June 23 to June 25 with the theme: “Building Resilient Economies in Post COVID-19 Africa.