MAURITANIA, Africa – The African Development Bank (ADB) and the Bank for Trade and Industry (BCI) of Mauritania have signed a $485,000 technical assistance agreement for the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) program which aims at promoting women’s access to finance in Africa.
The agreement was signed by Mohamed El Azizi, African Development Bank director-general for North Africa and Isselmou Tajidine, managing director of BCI’s trade and industry group, on the sidelines of the Mauritania Investment Forum.
The forum, titled, Invest Days-Nouakchott, was organized by the Mauritania Investment Promotion Agency – promoting access of Women-Owned Enterprises to financial and technical support services in the Western Sahel region project is financed by the African Development Bank with funding support from the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi).
The project aims to strengthen BCI’s financing capacity for trade and industry and to better support women’s small and medium enterprises in Mauritania, Mali, Senegal and Guinea.
“The signing of this technical assistance agreement with the BCI Group is an important step in supporting the financial inclusion and growth of women-led SMEs, which play a crucial role in Mauritania’s economic development,” said Mohamed El Azizi.
The agreement consolidates a €10 million line of credit approved by the bank’s board of directors in 2021 by the African Development Bank to the Bank for Trade and Industry to support the growth and trade of strategic small businesses, including women entrepreneurs.
Tajidine said: “This technical assistance project reinforces the BCI Group’s strategic partnership with the African Development Bank, which will position us as the bank of choice for women entrepreneurs in Mauritania, Senegal, Mali and Guinea. it will help expand our offering of financial products and technical support for women-led businesses.”
AFAWA and the Mauritania Investment Promotion Agency organized a workshop on strengthening the financial inclusion of women’s SMEs in Mauritania during the Invest Days-Nouakchott Forum. The session presented the mechanisms of the initiative, including the “Guarantee for Growth” program implemented by the African Guarantee Fund. It also provided an opportunity to discuss the regulatory framework and steps that authorities and businesses can take to improve financial access for women’s businesses.
The forum also featured the launch of the AFAWA ambassadors program which will advocate for accelerating access to finance for Africa’s women entrepreneurs and showcase women leaders. The first AFAWA ambassadors are Angélique Kidjo, musician and founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Batonga Foundation; Evelyne Tall-Daouda, founder, E and Partners and former deputy CEO and Chief Operations Officer (COO) of Ecobank Transnational Inc; Monica Musonda, founder and CEO of Java Foods; and Aïssata Lam, director-general, The Investment Promotion Agency of Mauritania.
Aïssata Lam, director-general of the Investment Promotion Agency in Mauritania, was recently named one of the World Economic Forum’s Global Young Leaders. She said she was “proud to be an AFAWA ambassador, which is a crucial initiative to bridge the financial gap for African women entrepreneurs through access to finance, technical assistance and policy dialogue.” She stressed the importance of synergy between public and private actors as well as civil society for a regulatory framework and a business environment that would be more conducive to inclusive finance and economic empowerment of African women.