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The African Development Bank (AfDB) says it will offer $300 million to financial intermediaries to support the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA).

A group of women during a food campaign

Mr Ebrima Faal, the Senior Director, Nigeria Country Department, AfDB, said this at the 2018 International Women’s Day (IWD) commemorative event organised by the bank on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 in Abuja.

Faal was represented by Mr Late Lawson-Zankli, the Manager of Operations in the bank.

He said the theme of this year’s event was “Time is now: Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Women`s lives.”

According to him, the objective of AFAWA is to unleash women’s economic potential by enabling more businesses operated by women access available and affordable finance.

“We want to achieve this by mobilising about 300 million dollars to financial intermediaries through a partnership driven approach, by measuring impact and by supporting financial system in Africa,” Faal said.

He said AFAWA had four components which are: AFAWA women financing facility, technical assistance programme, enabling environment and AFAWA women lab.

Faal explained that the financing facility would catalyse debt financial resource to targeted women-owned Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and larger formal MSMEs, while AFAWA technical assistance programme would provide assistance to women financing ecosystem.

Faal added that AFAWA enabling environment would be complemented by technical assistance and grants channeled to AfDB member countries in alignment with budget support operations to influence policy making, and gender mainstreaming among others.

He noted that AFAWA women lab would create a knowledge centre, documenting the first hand challenges, constraints and dynamics facing women in accessing finance.

According to him, the pursuit of gender equality is, therefore, integral to the vision of the bank.

He said addressing gender inequalities and reducing gender disparities would improve economic efficiencies and growth.

“The bank ensures priority is given to women in all its operations. All projects have clear indicators on gender with which progress on gender mainstreaming are monitored and evaluated,” Faal said.

The National Programme Officer, United Nations Women, Mrs Patience Ekeoba, said women needed to be celebrated by institutions, family and the Federal Government due to their contribution to economic growth and development.

In her remarks, the President, Change Mangers International Network, Mrs Felicia Onibon, called for more attention to the needs and development of women in rural communities.

Onibon said it was important for leaders at all levels, regional, national, state and local government to objectively look at women’s issues to improve their livelihood, particularly in rural areas.

By Suzzy Tolofari

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