Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi Launches Women Empowerment Fund

Africa News Agency

Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi has launched a $300-million (R26-rillion) empowerment fund, the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA), specifically designed to help female-owned businesses on the continent with finance in order to thrive.

The AFAWA Program, according to Fraser-Moleketi, plans to address the financing gap that exists with respect to women’s access to finance and would also assist with addressing the skills gap in female entrepreneurs.

Seen as an alternative financing institution, AFAWA was officially launched at the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) annual meetings in Lusaka, Zambia.

Speaking on the sidelines of meetings, Fraser-Moleketi said she had worked tirelessly for more than five years to ensure that AFAWA was finally started and became a success.

“We have covered a lot of ground to set up this initiative. We are at the stage now where we can start disbursing funds immediately,” Fraser-Moleketi said.

“Part of AFAWA’s majority work will be based on providing finance and technical skills, such as helping women-owned SMMEs conduct feasibility studies and get their paperwork in order. But we will also assist them with non-financial services.”

She said the program would comprise of four components, with the AfDB expected to provide part of the financing, which would in turn catalyse additional funding from other investors and donors.

Fraser-Moleketi is South Africa’s former minister of Public Service and Administration and now the Special Envoy on Gender for the African Development Bank.

The Bank said it was demonstrating commitment to advancing the Gender Equality Agenda, in particular addressing the challenges women face in accessing finance.

AfDB president, Akinwumi Adesina, said the creation of the AFAWA Program was a direct response to international pledges, in particular to the resolution on the need to establish a financing facility for women’s economic empowerment, which was taken at the January 2015 African Union Heads of State Summit and tasked to the AfDB for implementation.

Adesani said research had proven that 97 percent of female-owned enterprises paid their loan commitments on time and that businesses owned by women were not only profitable, but also good for communities in general.

Adesani had vowed in October last year to work with partners to mobilize funding of up to $300 million to finance an Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa, in order to leverage an additional $3 billion.

Source: http://www.enca.com/

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