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$1b boost for female entrepreneurs

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has announced a $1.1 billion lending programme to help women entrepreneurs  in Africa.

The EIB is the lending arm of the European Union. The EIB has supported investment in Africa for more than 50 years. Last year, it provided a record €3.3 billion to African countries, with more than half the funds being pumped into the private sector.

A  statement said the EIB Vice President, Ambroise Fayolle, also revealed that the bank has signed three further agreements to boost sustainable development on the continent.

But the major deal is what the EIB has dubbed SheInvest. The EIB expects the gender-lending initiative to allow women to play a more active role in economies.

“This initiative aims to promote female entrepreneurship,” said Fayolle, noting that female entrepreneurs will also gain business skills from the initiative. He explained that the financing will promote gender investment related to climate change and is part of broader European engagement to provide targeted support for new investment that supports increased female economic participation in Africa.

The announcement was made at the ongoing  Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg, where hundreds of investors, development partners and wealth funds have gathered for the continent’s premier marketplace.

As one of the largest providers of climate finance, the investment bank has also struck a deal with Guinea-based telecommunications provider, IPT PowerTech Group, which will see the company abandon fossil fuels for cleaner sources of power such as solar and wind.

Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at IPT PowerTech Group, Mohamed Al Habbal, said  the move to renewable sources of energy such as solar power will help the company reduce its carbon footprint. Habbal estimates that thousands jobs will be created as a result of this deal.

A further deal that was signed on the first day of the second Africa Investment Forum, will see African Trade Insurance increase its membership in Western and Southern Africa. This increased insurance coverage is expected to attract more investment to the continent.

In Southern Africa the EIB confirmed a new lending programme to support access to finance by entrepreneurs across Malawi and confirmed a new scheme to finance smallholders in the country to be launched early next year.

A Senior Manager at Malawi’s FDH Bank, Patricia Hamisi,  said  the money will help the bank enhance its long-term credit to small businesses owned by women. “The agreement comes with technical assistance which will help the bank enhance its trade financing,” said Hamisi.

The Africa Investment Forum inaugural edition was launched in 2018 in partnership with Africa50, Afrexim Bank, the Trade Development Bank, the Development Bank of South Africa, the Islamic Development Bank, the Africa Finance Corporation, the European Investment Bank.

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