World Bank’s We-Fi initiative: Better Access to finance for Women Entrepreneurs in Africa & the Developing World

Fund raising is one of the biggest challenges for any entrepreneur. Being awoman entrepreneur from Africa, and too of colour, unfortunately just multiplies the challenges.  It has been estimated that only 30% of global registered entities are owned by women; and 70% of women entrepreneurs shut shop due to lack of funds. Not only funding, but lack of access to the complementary support systems of mentor networks, legal support, knowledge resources and technology are common issues that many women entrepreneurs in the developing world face.

On July 8, 2017, at the G20 Leaders’ Summit, The World Bank Group announced the creation of Women Entrepreneurship Finance Initiative (We-Fi) to help women in developing countries gain access to finance, markets and networks necessary to building their businesses.

Welcomed by global leaders such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Merkel, United States President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the initiative aims to enable more than $1 billion of financing to improve access to capital, provide technical assistance, and invest in other projects and programs that support women and women-led SMEs in World Bank Group client countries.

World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim said women’s economic empowerment was critical to achieving the inclusive economic growth required to end extreme poverty, which is why it had been such a longstanding priority.“This new facility offers an unprecedented opportunity to harness both the public and private sectors to open new doors of opportunity for women entrepreneurs and women-owned firms in developing countries around the globe,” he said.

Supporting women entrepreneurs is not only a financial or economic challenge, but also a social one. Only when a shift in the traditional roles of a woman in the family and home takes place, will women be truly empowered. To know more about funding options for women entrepreneurs in Africa, wait for the next post in the series.

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