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Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative Allocates Second Round Funding; Expected to Grow 70,000 Women’s Businesses

The World Bank Group issued the following report on May 13, 2019.

The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) today announced its second funding allocations – expected to benefit 70,000 women-led businesses and mobilize nearly a billion dollars of additional public and private sector resources.

The second round allocates $129 million for programs to boost women’s entrepreneurship that will be implemented by four multilateral development banks, expecting to mobilize $990 million of additional funds from other public and private sources. The African Development Bank received $61.8 million for activities covering 21 African countries; the Asian Development Bank received $20.2 million for activities in Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji; the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development received $22.9 million for activities in low-income Central Asian countries; and the Inter-American Development Bank received $24.28 million for activities in countries across Latin America and the Caribbean.

This compliments the first round of We-Fi funds announced in April 2018, which allocated $120 million for projects implemented by the World Bank Group, Asian Development Bank, and Islamic Development Bank to tackle the barriers facing women entrepreneurs across developing countries. Together, the two allocations aim to reach 115,000 women entrepreneurs and mobilize $2.6 billion in additional public and private sector resources, ten times the resources allocated by We-Fi’s 14 donor governments.

“We-Fi is the first of its kind – a large-scale, multi-stakeholder partnership designed to address obstacles facing women entrepreneurs through comprehensive, sustainable solutions,” said Geoffrey Okamoto, Chair of the We-Fi Governing Committee and Acting Assistant Secretary for International Finance and Development at the United States Department of the Treasury. “The idea is not to fund individual women entrepreneurs, but to fund projects that disrupt the systemic causes of financial obstacles to women’s entrepreneurship.”

“When we unleash women’s economic potential, they increase global growth, prosperity and peace,” said World Bank Group Chief Executive Officer, Kristalina Georgieva. “We-Fi has exceeded all targets in mobilizing billions of dollars of financing for women entrepreneurs, including in the most challenging environments. I look forward to continuing this momentum, because when women succeed, everyone benefits.”

Seventy percent of the current We-Fi funding allocation will benefit women entrepreneurs in IDA countries and countries affected by fragility and conflict.

Under the second round of funding:

• The African Development Bank (AfDB) was granted $61.8 million for its program “Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa” (AFAWA). The program will offer innovative and tailored financial instruments including a women-focused first loss risk-sharing facility, specialized capacity-building training, and targeted initiatives to dramatically transform the business- enabling environment for women entrepreneurs. Of 21 economies targeted, AFAWA will mainly service IDA and fragile or conflict-affect countries where women are underserved in accessing financing, markets, knowledge, and mentoring programs. These countries include Burundi, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

• The Asian Development Bank (ADB) was granted $20.2 million for a program on “Women Accelerating Vibrant Enterprises in Southeast Asia and the Pacific” (WAVES). WAVES will support more than 5,105 women-owned or led businesses in the Pacific and Viet Nam, and will foster long-term behavior change among key stakeholders in the private and public sectors. Access to finance will be expanded through performance-based lending in Viet Nam, and the first gender bond in Southeast Asia and the Pacific will be issued in Fiji. ADB will to support implementation of the gender provisions under Viet Nam’s business law. Women’s capacity and confidence to run successful businesses will be developed via financial literacy, business acceleration, and mentorship programs to increase their contributions to building inclusive and dynamic economies.

• The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) was granted $22.9 million for its “Women of the Steppe” Women in Business Program in Central Asia. 100% of We-Fi funding will be dedicated to activities in IDA countries including the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The program takes a holistic approach to tackling demand-side, supply-side, and environmental constraints, thereby sparking systemic change at both the market and firm-levels.

• The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) received $24.28 million for its “Women Entrepreneurs for Latin America and the Caribbean” (WeForLac) program. WeForLac will boost access to finance, markets, skills and networks, while strengthening entrepreneurship ecosystems in support of women-owned and led businesses. The program is expected to reach more than 19,252 women, with a focus on underserved communities in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, and Peru.

Quote of the Day:
“Within a system which denies the existence of basic human rights, fear tends to be the order of the day. Fear of imprisonment, fear of torture, fear of death, fear of losing friends, family, property or means of livelihood, fear of poverty, fear of isolation, fear of failure. A most insidious form of fear is that which masquerades as common sense or even wisdom, condemning as foolish, reckless, insignificant or futile the small, daily acts of courage which help to preserve man's self-respect and inherent human dignity. It is not easy for a people conditioned by fear under the iron rule of the principle that might is right to free themselves from the enervating miasma of fear. Yet even under the most crushing state machinery courage rises up again and again, for fear is not the natural state of civilized man.”

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