Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) funding seeks to support women-led businesses to scale higher heights. It plans to bail out women in low-income areas and conflict-affected economies. As a result, such economies will be boosted to bring economic growth to the lagging sectors. This initiative partners with other multi-laterals to realize its goal of bridging the gap between women-led and men-led businesses. The African Development Bank (ADB) is one of the multi-lateral banks expected to receive funding for investment in African businesses. With this regards, it will receive US$61.8 million for business activities in 21 African countries. This funding channeled to African Development Bank program known as “Affirmative Finance for Women (AFAWA)” will be paramount in boosting women entrepreneurship, especially in those poverty-stricken areas.
AFAWA provides tailor-made financial instruments that help create a thriving business environment for women entrepreneurs. Such instruments as risk-sharing capacity, capacity-building training, and business-targeted initiatives are significant in the growth of any women-led businesses. Its main focus is on conflict-affected economies where women are denied opportunities to access financial services, mentorship, and credit facilities. In such circumstances, women cannot perform business activities efficiently. These countries include Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Nigeria, Mozambique, Mauritania, Mali, Ethiopia, DRC, Cote d’Ivoire, Comoros, Chad, and Burundi.
Background information about We-Fi
We-Fi is an organization that offers women entrepreneurs supports in efforts to access finance, markets, technology, mentoring, and other business activities. It collaborates with governments and the private sector to customize laws and policies undermining women businesses in developing countries. We-Fi gets massive support from Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Republic of South Korea, the U.A.E., the UK< and the US.
Statistics show that only 30% of Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are women-owned. 70% of these SMEs shut down due to financial strain especially lack of adequate capital. It is estimated that an annual deficit of US$ 300 billion is found in women-owned SMEs. Such factors as poor networks, lack of knowledge and links to high-value markets further limit these businesses. We-Fi intends to address these challenges so that more women can access finance, networks, and resources. This will help them to successfully start, and grow a business.
Women entrepreneurship is faced with many challenges. First, women-led businesses dominate the sales and retail sectors. Bearing in mind that these are lower-income sectors, the business cannot thrive. The high profits businesses like software, electronics, and engineering industries are dominated by men. This shows that there is a very wide gap in men and women businesses. The core mandate of We-Fi is to bridge this gap.
Research also shows that men are more socially connected than women. This makes them be a step ahead in closing business deals as well as keeping connections that are business-wise. We-Fi as well seeks to break the network barrier. This will allow women to have more opportunities in entrepreneurship. Women-led businesses are known to thrive fast thus impact the economy positively. This is because these startups will create more jobs, therefore raise the living standards of the people.