The African Development Bank Group’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA), in partnership with Export Trading Group (ETG), is set to revolutionize women’s entrepreneurship skills in Africa. This collaboration was unveiled at the United Nations climate conference, COP 28, where a technical assistance agreement of $1.8 million was signed, earmarked to enhance women’s entrepreneurship skills across four African nations.
A Commitment to Women’s Empowerment
The project, titled “Strengthening the Entrepreneurship Skills of Women Owned & Led Businesses and Women Employees”, is designed to support women employees and entrepreneurs, focusing particularly on women-led small and medium enterprises and cooperatives in Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. This initiative aims to integrate up to 3,600 women and women-led or owned businesses into ETG’s global supply chain over four years.
ETG’s Role in the Project
Export Trading Group, a multinational company with a significant presence in 40 countries, is a leading entity in the agricultural supply chain in sub-Saharan Africa. Through this partnership, ETG plays a pivotal role in enhancing gender parity by providing women with access to climate-resilient and climate-smart agriculture skills and creating a supportive infrastructure for women’s engagement in agricultural markets.
Impact and Scope
The project’s impact is expected to be far-reaching, contributing significantly to food security and economic growth in the involved countries. By training women employees to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and facilitating their access to finance and market linkages, the initiative addresses a crucial need. Women, who constitute a substantial portion of Africa’s agricultural workforce and make up 70-80% of purchasing decisions, stand to gain immensely from this program. The grant is financed through the Bank-managed Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (WeFi), which is part of the AFAWA initiative.
ETG’s Vision and Strategy
Paul Van Spaendok, Chief Treasury Officer of ETG, highlighted the strategic importance of this partnership, emphasizing that empowering women entrepreneurs is integral to making local economies and communities thrive. This collaboration aligns with ETG’s company strategy and marks a significant step towards achieving their goals.
Role of ETG’s Farmers Foundation
The ETG’s Farmers Foundation will also participate in this project, offering training and extension services in basic business skills and good agricultural practices to smallholder farmers. This inclusion is a testament to the comprehensive approach of the project, aiming to touch various aspects of the agricultural value chain.
A Leap Towards Sustainable Development
As noted by Kamini Menon, Chief Executive Officer of Export Trading Group Farmers Foundation, the region is home to the largest number of women entrepreneurs, yet their struggles to move beyond subsistence levels persist. This initiative represents a harmonization of public and private sector efforts, providing women with the necessary tools and opportunities to overcome existing constraints and prosper.
This partnership between AFAWA and ETG is more than just a financial investment; it’s a beacon of hope and a strategic step towards sustainable economic growth, gender equality, and empowerment of women in Africa’s agricultural sector.